Date of Award

7-1-2007

Degree Type

Thesis

University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)

School

School of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

D.A.H.

Department

Africana Women's Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Josephine Bradley

Second Advisor

Dr. Karamo B.S. Barrow

Third Advisor

Dr. Mary Twining

Abstract

The voices of youth are typically absent in research on African communities. The assumption is that children are not really active subjects, and that adults can speak and act on their behalf. This study addresses the walls of silence between children and parents; teachers and learners and between boys and girls, on matters of gender, sexuality and HIV/AIDS. Within these walls, youth construct and re-construct their roles as either feminine or masculine. We see them challenging social constructs and reclaiming their voices and their right to be heard as experts about their own gendered and sexual lives. Using interviews and focus group discussions, a tri-site study was carried out in Kenya, and the findings presented illustrate how boys and girls construct their identities, negotiating, adapting to and resisting common articulations of masculinity and femininity. It demonstrates why it is wrong to constantly associate gender with women and girls, focusing on masculinity and femininity, not in isolation of each other, but as relational identities which derive their meaning from each other. "Breaking Silence" focuses on gender, sexuality and HIV/AIDS risk amongst youth, demonstrating how youth can empower themselves to steer their agenda and articulate what it means to be particular boys or girls, while developing strategies to deal with their issues.

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