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Masters Degrees (Gender Studies)

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    Perceptions of female students with physical disabilities at the Pietermaritzburg campus of University of KwaZulu-Natal towards intimate relationships.
    (2021) Madlala, Gugu Euphemia.; Muthuki, Janet Muthoni.
    Background: Societal, environmental, and negative attitudes encountered by women living with physical disabilities is a reality that reflects the way society construes their human and social environments. Not only are women with disabilities faced with issues of infirmity, but also isolation due to their disability especially when it comes to matters of love and intimacy. Negative social attitudes towards women with disabilities can have a negative impact on their daily lives, more so on their perceptions of intimate relationships. Not much has been explored, written, and published about the perceptions of female students living with physical disabilities towards intimate relationships. In the light of this, this study researches the perception and experiences of female student with physical disability at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Pietermaritzburg campus. Purpose: To explore the ways in which university female students living with physical disabilities perceive themselves, their sexuality and intimate relationships. Methods: Qualitative research design was used for this study and one-on-one interviews was conducted with 20 female students living with physical disabilities from the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Pietermaritzburg campus. The participants were selected by convenience sampling. Results: The study found that women living with a physical disability perceived themselves as strong individuals capable of engaging in loving intimate relationships. The participants also raised other concerns such as the issues of trust in intimate relationships. Conclusion: The views expressed in this study may be useful in educating society about understanding issues of intimate relationships and disability as well as foster improved relations.
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    The voice of male citizens: why do men sexually abuse young girls? a study of men in Ibadan City in Oyo State, Nigeria.
    (2019) Adegbenjo, Oluwapelumi Temitope.; Mkhize, Gabisile Promise.
    Sexual abuse of young girls remains a prominent international concern. This pandemic abuse is a major problem that affects young girls and females throughout Africa. Nigeria is among the countries affected by the prevalence of sexual abuse with high reports of incidents of the sexual abuse of young girls which has become a regular fixture in the Nigerian media. Numerous studies have been done on sexual abuse; however, this study presents men’s perceptions and opinions about the reasons why men sexually abuse young girls. This study presents findings from research conducted in the Ibadan community in Oyo State, Nigeria. Based on a qualitative research method, the essential objective of this study is to explore men’s perception towards what they think makes men sexually abuse young girls. Hence this study does not look at the perpetrators or victims of sexual abuse but rather it seeks men’s opinions in order to understand the causes of sexual abuse perpetrated by men. The in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with twenty members of the Ibadan north-east local government community. With the ethical clearance approval, the interviews were conducted in the period of December 2018 to January 2019. The research is positioned towards a feminist critical argument therefore the aim of the investigation is to understand why men sexually abuse young girls. The study explores the authentic views of the Ibadan northeast’s community as there is limited scholarly literature on men’s opinions on the sexual abuse of young girls. Critical questions are asked such as men’s perceptions towards sexual abuse and what men think should happen to the perpetrators. This study provides the opportunity to listen to men’s voices on why men sexually abuse young girls. The data were thematically analysed and discussed. Results indicate that there is an overall knowledge of sexual abuse, from the sample of interviewees, majority of whom are patriarchal in nature. Also, from the findings there was a stereotyping of female dressing by the participants which was linked to the cause of sexual abuse, participants also expressed their judgmental actions on the perpetrators of sexual abuse by killing the offenders. Therefore, opinions and views are shared in the recommendations. Necessary campaigns and awareness on sexual abuse should be carried out to address the issue of sexual abuse, likewise to inform the law enforcement agencies on how to handle and give necessary attention to reports of sexual abuse.
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    Informal trading in post-apartheid South Africa: an examination of the experiences of black African women street traders in Durban.
    (2020) Ntuli, Ingihlengile Sinothile.; Mkhize, Gabisile Promise.
    Gender rhetoric has increasingly gained momentum in the post-apartheid era. The increase of engagement in gender related challenges clearly presents many opportunities to debate and confront various experiences surrounding the subject. In understanding that eThekwini Municipality was the first metropolitan City to recognise and implement informal trading sector policies as part of the economy in the year 2000, this research study used gender perspectives to delve into the informal sector and explore the experiences and challenges of black African women street traders in the City of Durban in the post-apartheid era. The existence of unequal power relations in society and economy have been entrenched throughout history with institutions such as the family, organisations and governments playing a crucial role in sustaining the cause not only in South Africa but also in Africa and across the world. These unequal power relations have always favoured and supported males more than females, advancing patriarchy and blocking the capacity of women to participate in social and economic development. As a feminist-based research, the study employed a qualitative research design and method. One on one interview was used to collect data from 15 black African women street traders in Durban. Using qualitative primary data analysis, this research study found that challenges affecting women street traders are influenced by various factors such as poverty, lack of formal education, poor policy implementation by the Municipality, the capital system of formalising the informal sector, social norms of patriarchy and the historical systems of apartheid. Poverty remains an epidemic issue in South Africa. The majority of the black African communities are poor and underprivileged. The research recommends practical measures of implementing policy measures supporting women streets traders and protect them from harsh economic and social conditions that further disadvantage them.
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    Understanding the sexual pleasure perceptions and preferences of black African university going women in the context of male circumcision.
    (2020) Ndaba, Thandeka Yasmeen.; Naidu, Uma Maheshvari.
    There is limited knowledge reinforcing notions of a positive and pleasurable Black African female sexuality. This emanates from the fact that studies in the African context have been predominantly preoccupied with the understanding and reinforcement of a Black African female sexuality that is characterised by pain, unequal relations, violence, and power disparities. Furthermore, women are more often than not, portrayed as powerless and submissive, and therefore, with little to no sexual agency in relationships. Even though the latter is to some extent true, it is not representative of the larger narrative of Black African female sexuality, as it often presents instances of sexual empowerment, liberation and pleasure. This qualitative study aimed at providing an in-depth exploration of the perceptions of sexual pleasure and preferences of Black African women at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Howard College Campus in the context of male circumcision and female pleasure. The study critically explored their experiences in terms of sexual pleasure, which, in this regard, facilitated a better understanding of Black African women as sexual beings. Social Constructionism and African Feminism were used as lenses in conducting the study. A purposive sampling technique was used, and comprised a small and intimate sample community of 8 Black African university-going women aged between 18 and 25 and who had sexual experiences with both circumcised and uncircumcised men. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken to garner rich and detailed narratives from the participants. Findings revealed that circumcised men were revered (sic) for their ability to offer women sexual pleasure.
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    An investigation into the effects of local television soap operas on romantic relationships among University of KwaZulu-Natal’s undergraduate students on the Pietermaritzburg campus.
    (2018) Mahlatsi, Palesa Agnes.; Muthuki, Janet Muthoni.
    Despite their popularity, few studies have thoroughly investigated the content of local romantic soap operas and their effects on viewers. This study was conducted to address this gap. This study initially explored the effects of local television soap operas on romantic relationships amongst UKZN undergraduate students on the Pietermaritzburg campus. Of particular interest was the way in which university students engaged with soap operas and how they perceived their gender roles within romantic relationships in relation to intimate relationships portrayed in soap operas. The study was positioned within a qualitative research paradigm conducted at UKZN Pietermaritzburg residences. This allowed for the examination, description and interpretation of the data developed throughout the focus groups and indepth interviews. Convenience, purposive and snowballing procedures were adopted to select participants. A total of 30 undergraduate students participated in this study. Ten indepth interviews and three focus groups of 6 to 8 participants were held. The focus group discussions and interviews were recorded and transcribed word-for-word. The data was analysed using a critical thematic analysis to formulate dominant themes within the data. Findings from this study indicated that soap operas have a huge effect on students’ romantic relationships. Further findings were that although soap operas are informative, they can also be over-exaggerated in their portrayal of events. Participants indicated that this is however not entirely bad, as they use the watching of soap operas for relaxation and “escaping” their lives. They also argued that they learn from characters’ experiences and use these lessons when faced with similar situations. Students interviewed stated that a character’s ability to move on, personality characteristics, their earning capacity, physical beauty and relational skills were found to be key influencing factors on the choice of a romantic partner in soap operas. Nonetheless, study participants complained about the portrayal of women in soap operas, describing them as being misrepresented and undermined. Participants indicated that sexual activities on soap operas are over-exaggerated. In short, participants in the study felt that they never get what they expect in relationships when they have based their expectations on soap opera portrayals of relationships. They also pointed out that traditional gender roles and transactional relationships are very popular in soap opera portrayals, and this might unintentionally encourage the viewers to follow similar behaviours. To conclude, the participants indicated that all the themes that emerged from the data have an influence in their relationships.
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    An examination of women’s voices in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The thing around your neck”.
    (2018) Olorunfemi, Christy Aisha.; Muthuki, Janet Muthoni.
    This study investigates Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s female character portrayal in her first short story effort, The Thing Around your Neck, an anthology of twelve short stories. The study offers an insight into a variety of female characters taken from the author’s short stories. These characters, after being contextualized within a patriarchal society/environment, are analyzed in terms of gender subjugation and marginalisation vis-à-vis an African Reformist Feminist reading to explore and analyse a variety of Adichie’s portrayal of female characters in the text and to ascertain how the author equips and empowers her females to fight and overcome subjugating situations and attain their liberation and freedom. The study further employs the Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis model to examine the ways in which the author resists sexism in literature through her writing and her attempt to increase the awareness of the sexual politics of language and style in writing. The study also identifies and critically explores the strategies adopted by Adichie’s female/women characters in the society to involve the men in their women’s emancipation. This analysis justifies the author’s aim to involve men as partners in the women’s quest for freedom and emancipation in the development of the Nigerian society in particular and Africa as a whole. Also, possible symbols or connections to recent African history are examined in order to give domestic stories a larger meaning.
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    The gendered politics of land distribution and inheritance by widowed women in KwaZulu-Natal.
    (2018) Owusu, Iris Bongi.; Muthuki, Janet Muthoni.
    The land question in South Africa is a recurrent debate in today’s political and socio-economic atmosphere, so too is the discourse about the rights of women to land inheritance. While the South African Government is making efforts to ensure that the rights of women to land inheritance are protected, women still remain marginalized. They continue to be confronted with numerous cultural injustices and other harmful practices that conflict with the Constitution of the country as well as with international treaties and agreements to which South Africa is signatory. The thesis examined the gendered politics that are involved in land inheritance amongst the Zulu Speaking widowed women in KwaZulu-Natal. The study focused on the experiences of the Zulu speaking widows who are members of WWOSA which is a non-governmental organisation based in the Northern part of KZN in Richards Bay. Even though the focus is within WWOSA, the study reviewed other relevant and related literature on widowhood rituals and land disinheritance globally, seeing asit is not uniquely South Africa phenomenon and is quite prevalent in other parts of the African continent. Therefore, to investigate the phenomenon and the politics involved in the land inheritance by the Zulu speaking widows, the study sort to answer the following questions: What are the traditional practices surrounding land inheritance for widows in KZN Province? What are the constitutional provisions related to land inheritance for widows? What is the role of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) in implementing land reform gender policy? How does the DRDLR partner with other stakeholders in land access and distribution issues? The study adopted a qualitative research approach to address the aforementioned questions, which included in-depth interviews with WWOSA and sourcing relevant secondary data like documents from DRDLR, newspaper articles, published books and journals to mention a few.
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    Examining the contestation between domestic violence legislation and the socio-cultural norms of the Oyo community in Nigeria.
    (2018) Oduola, Adebimpe Anike.; Muthuki, Janet Muthoni.
    Domestic violence is a pervasive issue that occurs globally in various cultures and traditions regardless of victims’ social, economic, religious, ethnic or racial background. Women are being beaten, sexually coerced and abused. And the existence of strong patriarchal values, encourages males to become sexually, physically and psychologically abusive toward their female partners. In Nigeria, domestic violence affects women in all communities, of every ethnic, classes, religious and socioeconomic groups, living in both rural and urban areas. However, this study found that the prevalence of domestic violence is mostly pervasive in the Oyo community because it is a male-centered community, with diverse traditional and cultural beliefs and practices, as well as a rigid customary legal framework that supports male domination and discrimination against women in the form of male-child preference syndrome, levirate marriage, primogeniture, and widowhood rites, which have become the norm in their daily activities. Despite Nigeria is party to several international as well as domestic human treaties which aimed at addressing and protecting the rights of women and girls, to be free from domestic violence. In addition, the Oyo State House of Assembly enacted the provision of laws that prohibit and protect against gender-based violence and other related matters in public and private life in 2013 and 2016, of which protection of women from domestic violence and harmful traditional practices received a mention. The study revealed how Oyo community’s socio-cultural norms affect the implementation of legislation on domestic violence in the community, by examining how the numerous traditional and socio-cultural beliefs and practices of the Oyo community towards domestic violence is a hindrance to the implementation of the legislation on domestic violence in the community to curb domestic acts of violence. Nego-feminism and Legal feminism theories were employed as the theoretical lenses that guided the study. Nego-feminism was used to know how to utilize the culture of negotiation for the deconstruction of patriarchy in the Oyo community for the benefit of women. While the legal feminism theory was used to explain the issue of gender inequality, by critiquing and changing laws on behalf of, and from the perspective of women towards challenging gender subordination and condemning other patterns of injustice, specifically patriarchy, for the liberation of women. The study adopted qualitative content data analysis method. This was achieved through the review of YouTube videos of interview sessions with an Ifa priest and priestess on the mythology contained in Odu Ifa (literary corpus). The study also assessed legislature documents.
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    A critical study of the life of Sibusisiwe Makanya and her work as educator and social worker in the Umbumbulu district of Natal 1894-1971.
    (1995) Khan, Umehani.; Burns, Catherine E.
    This is a study of the life of Sibusisiwe Makanya and her work as an educator and social worker in Umbumbulu, a peri urban area on the south coast of Natal. In this construction of her life I have referred to the Makanya Papers, housed in the Killie Camp bell Africana Library; the Rheinhallt Jones papers and the Bantu Youth League papers, housed in the South African Institute of Race Relations papers at the University of the Witwatersrand's Historical Papers Collection; the Forman Collection at the University of Cape Town; and the papers of the Second Annual Conference of the Zulu Society housed in the Natal Archives, Pietermaritzburg. There are no direct kith or kin alive today who could be interviewed to provide detailed perspectives about the life of Sibusisiwe. However, three people, who had known her, have been interviewed for information that sheds more light on the life and times in which she lived. Sibusisiwe Makanya's life demonstrates an interesting departure from what was generally perceived to be the status and role of women in African rural society in the early years of this century. To a considerable extent, she was among a vanguard--challenging an array of traditional and sexist array of forces blocking her path. Through this she created a space for other women to renegotiate or avoid the roles that their society had determined for them. This thesis is divided into six chapters: Chapter One positions Sibusisiwe Makanya in her historical period and attempts to answer some issues relating to representation and the nature of biographical writing as it has arisen in. South African Women's Studies and the concern relating to silences and lacunae in evidence regarding Sibusisiwe. Chapter Two deals with the life and work of Sibusisiwe before she left to study in the USA. Chapter Three discusses her sojourn in America and the educational and personal challenges she had to deal with. Chapter Four explores the nature of work she initiated as a social worker in a rural/ peri urban area of South Africa. Chapter Five discusses her work as she became more firmly established and as she became a role model fo other women, both for her dedicated community work and for her self actualisation. Chapter Six draws together the various themes discussed in the thesis and explains the relevance of Sibusisiwe's work for the new South Africa.
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    Exploring the perceptions of Congolese migrant women in Durban towards the practice of preserving virginity before marriage.
    (2017) Kanda, Cecile Bulungu.; Mkhize, Gabisile Promise.
    This study explored the perceptions of Congolese migrant women towards the practice of preserving virginity as a form of purity until marriage, by focusing on the opinions of Congolese migrant women living in Durban in South Africa. Virginity has social and significant legal implications in many societies in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and women have responsibilities to protect their virginity in order not to be viewed by society as impure. In DRC, virginity purity before marriage is viewed as the key contributor to the true meaning of womanhood. Because of that, it is culturally expected that woman should not engage in premarital sex. Thus, a woman should enter into marriage as a virgin; she should “give up” her virginity to her husband in the act of consummating the marriage. The aim of this study was to determine whether Congolese migrant women living in South Africa, specifically in Durban, continue to engage in the practice of virginity preservation before marriage as they are now immersed in a new and different society than that of DRC. Also, the study sought to explore how Congolese migrant women view the practice of keeping virginity as a form of purity before marriage. That is, do the migrant women reinforce or resist this culture while being in a foreign land, relative to being in the DRC? In order to answer these key questions and address the objectives, the study used the qualitative research method. This method was chosen because it seemed to be the most appropriate to describe how the changes among Congolese women could possibly affect their perceptions of culture. The study used interviews and focus groups as its research instruments for gathering data from the sample size of 18 Congolese migrant women who reside in Durban. The findings of this study indicate that most Congolese found it difficult to maintain the gendered practice of preserving virginity before marriage as recommended in their culture and this could be attributed to mixture of cultures in their new environment. Therefore, Congolese migrant ;women in particular need to be educated on how to protect themselves and stay safe from the danger of STIs and HIV/AIDS.
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    An investigation into the meanings and contestations around the practice of labia elongation amongst a select group of migrant women living in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
    (2017) Namwala, Nachilima.; Muthuki, Janet Muthoni.
    This study investigates the meanings and contestations around the practice of labia elongation amongst a select group of migrant women living in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. This study examines how the migration experience shapes the discourses that surround the practice of labia elongation. It also aims to give a voice to migrant women concerning this practice. By using a qualitative interpretivist theoretical paradigm, I seek to highlight how these migrant women deal with the labia elongation practice. The key question in this study is as follows; what are the meanings and contestations around the practice of labia elongation amongst migrant women living in Pietermaritzburg South Africa? In-depth interviews were utilized as the method of data collection. The study includes women from Lesotho, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The experiences that migrant women may encounter in their host countries may impact how they view labia elongation. When performed in a migratory context, cultural practices such as labia elongation, are usually reshaped. Migration therefore gives women an opportunity of cultural reflection and this has led to a modification of cultural practices, such as labia elongation. The majority of the women in the study stated that they had no problem with the continuation of the practice, as long as the age was revised and consent was sought from those women who wished to undergo this practice. However, other women were ambivalent. The results of this study indicated that, although these women have migrated from their home countries, they still regard this practice as being important.
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    Exploring the experiences of African female students in the environmental science program at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Pietermaritzburg and Westville campus.
    (2017) Khoza, Sindiswa Yoland.; Muthuki, Janet Muthoni.
    The study is based on African female students and the different obstacles they have faced and continue to face due to aspects such as social, political and economic oppression that have hindered their growth in the academic and work environment. The aim of the study was to explore the experiences of African female students in the Environmental sciences field at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The study gathered the different experiences that Black female students’ experience in the previously male dominated field of study phase. The study also looked at different aspects such as the factors influencing Black female students’ choice of Environmental Science. The study included various questions that broadened experiences and asked specific questions that looked into the influences on black females in the environmental science field and how negotiation will impact the women’s personal and work environment. The questions also included the challenges that the women faced and what their future aspirations were. These sets of questions opened up different areas of experience that the affected women had and their influences in shaping their experience in the field. The study identified various challenges faced by Black women in environmental sciences. Racial discrimination is one of the major challenges that Black female environmental science students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal are faced with. The study also suggested further research in the environmental sciences at postgraduate level is needed. The study also suggested that several studies look at engineering and medicine, it would be more informative if environmental science is viewed as a field that can stand on its own and not be organized under Science, Technology Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.
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    Female student's understanding of intimate partner violence at UKZN residences.
    (2017) Myende, Thembeka Makhosazana.; Singh, Shakila.
    Intimate partner violence (IPV), under the gender-based violence umbrella, is a tragedy in university residences, with young women bearing scars the most. The underlying issue contributes to women falling behind in areas of economic development, autonomy, politics, social standing, and in their education. These shortfalls indicate the power inequalities between men and women that continue to exist in society. In this dissertation, I sought to showcase the understandings about IPV of female students living at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, in one of the university campus residences. Using West and Zimmerman‟s (1987) framework of social constructionism, I sought to explore what meanings female students attach to IPV at the residences. Using a case study methodology, semi-structured interviews were conducted with eighteen female participants studying to be teachers at the university. Findings reveal that IPV is prevalent at the university residences and female students are the most victimised group. Factors contributing to IPV include alcohol, the need for materialism, blame, enduring pain for the sake of love, and socialisation. Violence directed towards female students in institutions of learning is often perpetrated by people they know such as their boyfriends. Some participants showed agency actions in resistance of IPV in their relationships and those of others; others were reserved for the conventional spaces they found themselves in. The study also highlights the importance of interventions aimed at changing attitudes and societal norms about IPV, proposed by female students themselves. There is also a need to understand the reproduction of masculinity at the expense of women and for society to attempt to understand the social and cultural norms shaping the justification of IPV.
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    An analysis of the discursive representations of women’s sexual agency in online fatwas : a case study of askimam.org
    (2015) Ismail, Farhana.; Seedat, Fatima.
    Combining a feminist post-structural methodology with a legal interpretive framework located in classical texts, this study analysed six fatwas on South Africanbased Mufti Ebrahim Desai’s online fatwa platform, askimam.org, to provide insights into the discursive representations of women’s sexual agency. By virtue of their potential to provide data on lived experiences of sex and intimacy in modern contexts, and the legal interpretive reasoning they prompt, the analysis of these fatwas revealed competing and complementary discourses on women’s sexual agency. Petitioners grapple with the dissonance created by their pietistic loyalty to the legal tradition of marriage, and expectations of mutuality within contemporary marriage. They rely on varying dimensions of health to argue for women’s choices in the sexual arena. In their responses, some muftis accommodate women’s sexual refusals and desires using an ethical framework, and they support mutuality using strategies of sexual communication and benevolent masculinity. Unlike other facets of health, which are managed in the juristic space as spiritual concerns, physical health concerns related to sex are managed within a biomedical ethical paradigm, thus linking sexual rights to physical health. The study shows the potential for muftis to link sexual rights to psychological and emotional facets of health and the possibilities to adopt an ethical paradigm that includes other medical and allied therapies. Amongst the fatwas produced by Desai and his students, Desai’s own fatwa, in the context of reform inclinations on his website, suggests this possibility. Although the online fatwas of askimam.org do not diverge substantially from the legal logic of Muslim marriage, they provide a glimpse into how Deoband muftis are thinking about the model of marriage, through an emphasis on mutuality and health and well-being, in order to preserve the marriage and maintain the stability of the contemporary Muslim family. The study proceeds to analyse how foundational sources, Qur’an and hadith, are utilised in this regard, and concludes with an analysis of how the online space is gradually reformulating traditional concepts and norms, thus facilitating new prospects for reconfiguring gender relations.
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    Gender and community development : examining women's participation in gender mainstreaming community development projects in Rushinga District, Zimbabwe.
    (2015) Zanza, Chiedza Elizabeth.; Mkhize, Gabisile Promise.
    Over many decades, there has been mounting global cohort on women empowerment and gender equality and noticeable theories, frameworks and approaches to gender and development are being developed. In response to gender disparity and women marginalisation, the global village has made strides in mainstreaming gender and promoting equality. This has been a success and some nations have achieved their goals whilst in other nations it is still on-going process. Every nation, including those in Africa, is empowering women, creating a democratic space for their participation and eliminating gender based violence, as such, therefore, there is a need to revisit or examine the response of women to these initiatives. Mainstreaming gender from grassroots levels leads to development of sustainable communities and emancipation of women. In women’s empowerment, the policies must involve the individual perspectives of every woman before addressing gender disparities at national or international levels. This is an indispensable requisite and women’s empowerment has to be from local level, (individual and family, community to national and global level). For such reasons, in this paper, I examined women’s response to gender mainstreaming, specifically their participation in community gardening projects in rural communities of Rushinga District, Zimbabwe. I investigated if more women were responding to the efforts development and government agencies in a positive manner. I also find out some of the barriers women encounter during participation or in response to gender mainstreaming. Some women, as a target populace in gender mainstreaming projects, are being excluded in empowerment strategies and initiatives due to a range of barriers while some women are fully emancipated and own the programs (Moser, 1993). Some of this study’s findings concluded that women response to gender mainstreaming efforts, their involvement, participation and commitment to community development projects designed for them are influenced by multiple factors ranging from, structural, environmental and individual. The structural factors comprise of social, economic and political issues that are limiting or enabling women to participate in gender mainstreaming community projects.
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    Gender and HIV / AIDS: examining HIV/AIDS communication among Black students in heterosexual relationships at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College campus.
    (2016) Njawala, Latifa Venant.; Mkhize, Gabisile Promise.
    HIV/AIDS is a prominent health concern internationally. This pandemic continues to be a major disaster throughout Africa. South Africa is among the nations with extremely high rates of people living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). Higher education learners in South Africa constitute a large portion of people affected by HIV. By 2010, Higher Education HIV/AIDS [HEAIDS] estimated that one in four students in South Africa is infected with HIV. Overall prevalence of HIV among University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) students is 2.4 percent (Higher Education and HIV/AIDS – HEAIDS, 2008; 2010). Current statistics also show that in South Africa, 18.8 percent of the youth are sexually active, including university students aged between 15 and 49 are living with HIV (Human Sciences Research Council – HSRC, 2014). This indicates how serious the HIV epidemic is in the country in general, and in the education sector in particular. This study presents findings from research conducted at the Durban-based UKZN, Howard College Campus, on March 2015. Based on qualitative research methods, the essential objective of this study is to explore gender relations among black students of African ancestry in heterosexual relationships, in relation to HIV/AIDS communication. Specifically, the study endeavours to establish whether students in heterosexual relationships communicate about HIV/AIDS, in relation with the existing gender relations. Sixteen UKZN black students, eight female and eight male, formed the sample of the study. The study is informed by three different, but related theories, namely interpersonal communication, social constructionism, and feminist post-structuralism. Semi-structured one-on-one interviews and focus group discussion were used for data collection. The data were thematically analysed and discussed. Results indicate the majority of students 87.5 percent interviewed communicate about HIV/AIDS among themselves. Only a few communicated 33 percent in a gender sensitive way, while the majority 55.5 percent students’ communication system is gendered. The study found that lack of communication, and the existence of this gendered communication among heterosexual partners may put partners at risk of HIV/AIDS infection. The study also shows that there is little understanding on the gender concept and what it constitutes. This suggests that enough knowledge on gender and HIV/AIDS communication is based on gender equality among students in heterosexual relationships, is an imperative stimulus on HIV/AIDS preventive practices.
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    Women's health-seeking behaviour in the context of sexual violence, sexual health rights, and the Muslim community. A case study of Hope Careline Counselling.
    (2016) Bodhanya, Maryam.; Reddy, Sarasvathie.
    Through interdisciplinary research in gender, religion and health, located within a feminist paradigm approach, this research project aimed to critically explore how women’s religious beliefs influenced their health-seeking behaviour through the use of a counselling careline in the context of sexual violence, sexual health rights and the Muslim community. Using a qualitative research design, 3 women were interviewed as part of the data production process. This study focused on the health-seeking behaviour of women who experienced Gender Based Sexual Violence (GBSV) and who accessed a counselling careline. In-depth interviews were conducted comprising of a balance of open-ended and close-ended questions. The data was analysed using a multi-pronged approach called thematic network analysis. The findings indicated that religion influenced the health-seeking behaviour of the women participants who were influenced at two points, the reaching out stage as well as their prior health-seeking attempts. The following factors were found to have influenced their health-seeking behaviour: Defining sexual violence in their context, perceptions about the women’s connection to God, being silent about sexual matters, and the perceptions of sexual matters in Islam. Many misconceptions regarding the Muslim community and the GBSV exist and is nuanced and subtle. This research further aimed to contribute to a multi-level understanding of Gender Based Sexual Violence (GBSV) and sexual health rights within the context of the Muslim community. It is recommended that themes in this study be investigated further and that knowledge production and awareness be aspects that are focused on in Muslim communities thus leading to prevention rather than cure.
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    Equal rights without discrimination : probing the experiences of lesbian students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
    (2015) Mutambara, Marcia Victoria.; Naidu, Uma Maheshvari.
    The gap between human rights and sexual identities has gained much attention in the world. Despite the heated resentment of homosexuality in Africa, South Africa is the only African state which has embraced equal rights for all people despite their sexual orientation. However, this has not been a means to end the heinous and disturbing acts of violence and discrimination against LGBTI (Lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and intersex) persons. It is evident that though the South African constitution is versatile and inclusive to all rights, the society is not as liberal as the legislation in recognizing the significance of sexual rights. This study therefore, ascertains the extent to which these rights are consolidated and upheld in Higher Education Institutions like the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Using the responsibility to protect norm and social constructivism and social identity theories, the study explored the experiences of a small group of self-identifying lesbian students at the university. Findings reveal that most lesbian students encounter discrimination and social stigma on university premises. The social stigma perpetuates the silencing of some of the students’ sexual identities, and silencing of one’s sexuality constructs the dynamics which make the heteronormative status strengthened suppressing the lesbian status. Findings also reveal that most of the participants felt vulnerable and unsafe. The study in turn recommends that there has to be more active awareness programs and a more specific policy that rules out discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The study concludes that it is the responsibility of Higher Education Institutions to make sure that all student rights are catered for.
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    Exploring the schooling experiences of initiated Xhosa young men in a secondary school at Umzimkhulu.
    (2013) Ngcobo, Wiseman Gcizelela.; Singh, Shakila.
    Young men’s experiences are different, and in particular, so are the schooling experiences of initiated Xhosa young men. Using qualitative research methods, this dissertation seeks to explore the schooling experiences of a group of initiated Xhosa young at uMzimkhulu. Drawing on group and individual interviews, the study explores the relationships between initiated young men and their peers, their teachers; their conduct, behaviour as well their performance in areas of academics and sport. The study is based on the masculinities theoretical framework. Through the use of literature, the study will include articulation of what different authors say about the significance of the initiation ritual, what influences or places pressure on Xhosa young men to undergo the initiation ritual, and the role of the initiation ritual in reducing Human Immuno-Deficiency Virus (HIV) infection. In addition, it will elucidate what various authors maintain concerning the role of the South African government in monitoring the initiation ritual, the problems associated with the initiation ritual, and the impact the ritual has in perpetuating gender differences and the formation of other gender forms. The majority of Xhosa people, it would seem, strongly believe that all Xhosa young men should be traditionally initiated. Initiation is legally done by Xhosa young men in particular, between the ages of 18 to 25. The initiation process, (a marker of manhood) includes circumcision (the removal of foreskin from the penis) which serves as a sign/symbol that distinguishes men from boys. The study examines the contribution of the traditional initiation event to the construction of masculinities, and consequently, educational experiences of initiated Xhosa young men within the school. It is culturally believed that after initiation, Xhosa boys become young men and are expected to ‘behave like men’. These young men also expect to be ‘treated like men’. What happens, then, if these initiated Xhosa young men are still at school? These young men carry communal and social characteristics to school, as a result they are caught in a predicament environment. The study has found that the young men who have been circumcised and have endured the initiation process and survived receiving hegemonic status. So even though there are some initiated boys who do not expect preferential treatment nor do they discriminate against non-initiated boys, they nevertheless benefit from the gains made for all who are initiated. The study has also found that initiation ritual speaks largely to the event of the construction of masculinities and characterised by a variety of experiences including interpersonal relationships with teachers and peers, risky behaviour, the reduction of discrimination, behaviour associated with one’s chosen attire, as well as academic and sport performances.
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    Exploring sexuality and risk amongst coloured high school girls in an era of HIV and AIDS.
    (2014) Christison, Karen.; Singh, Shakila.
    This study explores constructions of sexuality and understandings of sexual risk amongst a group of Coloured high school girls in Durban, South Africa. In this study qualitative research was employed, as the aim is to obtain meanings of participants’ experiences. The study focused on Coloured high school girls between the ages of 16 to 18 years. The participants were from a local school in the area of Wentworth, as this was the research site. The study investigated the reasons for Coloured girls engaging in risky behaviour in an era of HIV and AIDS. It also sought to unearth their understandings of risky behaviour and how this impacted on their constructions of sexuality. The theory of social construction was used as the elements of this theory converged with the relevance of the study, whereby ideologies we believe to be inherent are socially constructed. For example, people who are Coloured by race are often categorised as people who enjoy partying and drinking alcohol and lack morals, but this is not of genetic origin, it is a social construct. The interpretive paradigm was elected in order to make meaning of participants’points of view. The methods of data collection were through the use of focus group discussions and semi- structured individual interviews. The focus group discussions provided the opportunity for participants to discuss in an open forum, allowing them to challenge responses through either agreement or disagreement. In the individual interviews participants were allowed to be honest and candid in their responses. The interviews provided rich, authentic data as they produced information from personal experiences as well as observations of peers. In the findings, participants expressed their knowledge of risky behaviour. They gave possible reasons for young Coloured women continuing to engage in risky behaviour despite having vast knowledge of the risks involved, especially since we live in an era of HIV and AIDS. It was also found that these young women felt that they could assert agency in relationships and not conform to practices of male dominance. The findings also revealed a lack of knowledge of some participants with regard to sexuality. They believe that gaps exist and should be addressed in order for them to make informed decisions.