Pregnant at the wrong time : experiences of being a pregnant young woman while schooling : selected Lesotho cases.
Mokobocho-Mohlakoana, Karabo M.
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This study is an exploration of participants' experiences of being pregnant as young women. The study attempts to respond to the following set of questions: What are the issues that surround young women's pregnancy in general? How has history shaped the construction of womanhood, family, sexuality, motherhood and young women's pregnancy? What are the beliefs, perceptions and policies surrounding young women's pregnancy and that underlie responses to it and how might they (beliefs, perceptions and policies) be changed? How do issues of sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS among young women interact with issues of pregnancy? What are the ways in which schools, students and pregnant young women handle the issue of pregnancy, the continuation of pregnancy while schooling, and the implications or impact on the women's career trajectories? What are the experiences of women who have been pregnant at young ages with regard to their education (including the implications for it)? The study utilized a feminist research methodology to interact with women who have been pregnant while schooling. In addition, the study employed feminist research to establish the way in which the Basotho construct young women's pregnancy and to decipher the basis for the way this is constructed. A survey questionnaire was used to generate baseline data on the current interactions of school and young women's pregnancy. The storied lives of pregnant women have been shared in the study in their Lesotho context, a small mountain Kingdom completely land locked by South Africa. In-depth interviews were conducted with eight previously pregnant women while some past pregnant women were accessed by the use of focus group interviews. Additional interviews were conducted with principals, parents, siblings, proprietors, and partners of past pregnant young women. The researcher’s autobiography as a previously pregnant young woman was also used. The data in the study was analyzed at different levels. The first level was a narrative analysis of the eight stories, including the autobiography, which have been presented as their stories. Data from the focus group interviews was analyzed by picking up themes from the interviews and presented by discussing the themes together with some of the direct words of the participants to reinforce the discussion. A cross sectional narrative analysis was done for principals, parents, siblings, proprietors and partners. A narrative analysis was also done for a separate principals ' survey. At the final stage the study brings together information that relates to the research questions. The analysis of the experiences of young woman's pregnancy has been illuminated by the interrogation of who constructs these experiences, what the constructions are and what they are based upon. Each story in the study is unique and not dependent on another however, it is interesting to note that the way young women's pregnancy interacts with the family, partner, school and religion has much to do with the social construction. The sudden altering of context of "good girl" to "bad girl" causes a sharp shift of the pregnant young woman's experiences, thus the fluid nature of social construction is observable. The negotiations that occur as individuals struggle to handle pregnancy are brought forward. The study has not gone without observations on the challenges faced. The study has also moved from the context based possibilities to the way forward.