Virtual Conference

Presentation Title: Youth Agency, Peer Influence and Sexual Relationships: An Analysis from Four Tanzanian Secondary Schools
Presenters: Dr Laura Wangsness Willemsen and Anna Ndesamburo Stainsby

Abstract: How do peers influence young people’s choices around sexual relationships in rural Tanzanian contexts characterized by economic insecurity and a high prevalence of HIV? Drawing on qualitative interview data from studies at four secondary schools, we examine how students understand sexual relationships and how they describe their peers as influencing their choices and agency within and around these relationships. Utilizing Kabeer’s conceptualization of empowerment (Kabeer, 1999), we find students recognize their peers as influencing their decision-making in both desired and undesired ways. We discuss examples of how young people view their peers as resources for expanding their abilities to act agentically to either resist unwanted relationships or, conversely, enter desired relationships as they transition to adulthood.

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