Negotiating “third space” during COVID-19:
A decolonial African feminist analysis of higher education female students’ experiences in Malawi and Zimbabwe

A Work-in-Progress session with Nyaradzai Changamire and Pempho Chinkondenji

Pempho nyari

In Sub Saharan Africa, the impact of Covid-19 on tertiary education institutions is unparalleled, forcing institutions to shut down, some indefinitely, with adverse consequences on educational equity among other things. Women and girls, including female university students, bear the brunt of operational challenges due to university closures, gaps and limitations in technological advancements. Based on the evidence from this study, Malawi and Zimbabwe have faced huge challenges in leveraging educational technology to support learning continuity in higher education. Engaging with 20 young women in higher education institutions in Zimbabwe and Malawi, we conduct a decolonial African feminist analysis of the their experiences during the university shutdowns. In this photovoice phenomenological study, we highlight how the young women, through various forms of negotiation, challenge and interrogate patriarchy and hegemonic dominance. We also utilize the concept of “third space” and nego-feminism to discuss the hybrid spaces that young women found themselves in within the home, as they negotiated multiple responsibilities in an unpredictable and ambiguous transition from on campus learning during the shutdown. 

Nyaradzai Changamire, PhD is a Zimbabwean-born social scientist whose career has always been related to education in different ways from public health training to community civic education, and now instructional design. She earned her Ph.D. in Education from UMass Amherst, where her research explored young women’s experiences with school-based sexual and reproductive health education in Kenya. Currently, she is an instructional designer at UMass where she teaches how to use learning technology in ways that engage diverse students in both online and in-person classroom contexts. As a consultant, she works collaboratively with organizations to promote more equitable, diverse, inclusive, and just workplaces. Nyaradzai has extensive work experience in the development and humanitarian sector where she worked for more than 10 years with women and girls on various humanitarian projects in Zimbabwe. Her current work includes higher education and technology, education in emergency settings, gender and migration, reproductive justice issues in the Global South.

Pempho Chinkondenji is a PhD candidate in International Education at UMass Amherst. More broadly, her research examines the intersection between gender, education, and development. Pempho’s primary research focuses on school (re)integration for student mothers and in-school pregnancy-related policies and praxis in African contexts. She also has research interests in education in emergencies, higher education and technology, representations of African women, and gender and power dynamics in higher education both on the African continent and in the diaspora. In framing this work, Pempho’s scholarship draws from post/de-colonial and African feminist thought to interrogate gender and power dynamics, including colonial and imperialist legacies in educational and development spaces.

Wednesday, February 23

11am-12pm EST

Remote via Zoom