Jessica Kim


Organization: Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE)
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Year: 2014

MRP/Thesis abstract:

“Education Helps Girls Stop Being Traditionalists”: Negotiating Gender Identity in Contradictory Discursive Practices.

Girls’ education in developing countries has been narrowly framed in global discourses, particularly in terms of access and potential for economic growth. This study contests the prevailing overemphasis on the economic gains of girls’ schooling, and situates girls’ lived experiences of education in Nairobi, Kenya’s schooling environment. The qualitative study seeks an understanding of how girls’ education discourses are interpreted, globally and locally, and how these interpretations are drawn upon, distilled, and navigated by girls themselves. Interviews with secondary school students in Nairobi revealed that the participants were compelled to negotiate and accommodate conflicting demands regarding appropriate gender roles, which had harmful effects on their experiences of schooling. The participants were revealed to be embedded in contradictory discursive environments, which stretched them in multiple directions—encouraging them with hopes of endless possibilities through education, while limiting those very possibilities by disciplining their attitudes and beliefs within the school.