Community solutions to gender discrimination of Ukerewe schoolgirls
Hagues, Rachel Joy Moore
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This ethnographic study used tenants of critical ethnography to examine gender discrimination of schoolgirls in and around secondary schools on the main island of Ukerewe, Tanzania. Overarching questions included: In what ways (if any) do girls feel pressured or manipulated into sex acts with their teachers or fellow male students? How, if at all, do girls perceive they will benefit if they choose to have sexual relations with teachers or male students? When girls experience gender discrimination or abuse in/around school settings, whom do they tell (if anyone)? What are local women’s perceptions of how the justice system (local- and country-level) handles abuse claims of schoolgirls? Thirty in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with Ukerewe women and participant observation was performed at 5 secondary schools with schoolgirls (n = 400). A thematic analysis was conducted using data from the interviews, participant observations (including the girls’ skits, group discussions, and reading from journal assignments), and my own observations made at the school and living in the community. The ecological-transactional theory was utilized to identify themes at the various levels of the girls’ lives and making recommendations for interventions and policy change. Member checking was conducted with my advisors: my Kiswahili interpreter and elders in the local community. Change that empowers and protects schoolgirls in the Ukerewe district is possible. Finally, potential family, community, school, and policy-level changes are addressed.