Original Research

Masculinities and femininities through teachers’ voices: Implications on gender-equitable schooling for vulnerable children from three primary schools in Swaziland

Ncamsile D. Motsa
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 14, No 1 | a540 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v14i1.540 | © 2018 Ncamsile Daphne Motsa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 January 2018 | Published: 20 November 2018

About the author(s)

Ncamsile D. Motsa, School of Education, College of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa


Informed by social constructionism and the intersectionality framework, this article focuses on the fight for sustainable gender-equitable and inclusive school environments for vulnerable children. It foregrounds the centrality of teachers’ constructions of gender within prevailing dominant gender discourses and the implications these constructions have on gender equality, the vulnerable children’s welfare and experiences of gender in three rural primary schools in Swaziland. The article draws on a qualitative narrative study and utilises semi-structured individual interviews and open-ended questionnaires with nine randomly selected teachers (three teachers from each of the targeted schools). The findings revealed that the absence of gender in the school curriculum left teachers with no option but to resort to dominant constructions of gender in their pedagogical practices. These gender constructions were inundated in paradoxes of equality of opportunities for all children, in ways that held different expectations for boys as compared to girls. The teachers’ constructions of masculinities and femininities as two diverse homogeneous groups made the gendered experiences of vulnerable boys and girls invisible, hence perpetuating the social injustices against them. Generally, the teachers were found not to concede the social inequalities and hierarchies within each social group of boys or girls. The study recommends the need to make teachers aware about the limiting and adverse effects of constructing gender and socialising vulnerable children in ways that affirm unequal gendered power relations, as a strategy for promoting gender-inclusive and gender-equitable school environments.


teachers; gender equality; dominant discourses; intersectionality; vulnerable children; Swaziland


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