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The Changing Nature of Girlhood in Tanzania

Influences from Global Imagery and Globalization

Marni Sommer

The experience of girlhood is shifting in Tanzania as family structure is altered by economic migration and the impact of HIV/AIDS. Also significant is the influence of globalization and global imagery, which are shaping the nature of girlhood and the experience of transitioning to young womanhood. A deeper understanding of how globalizing influences are changing girls' growing up experiences, from the perspectives of the girls themselves and the adults who intersect with them in their daily lives is essential. A rural versus urban comparative case study was conducted in the Kilimanjaro region of northern Tanzania, which explored the perspectives of girls and adults through a range of methodologies. Both adults and girls expressed concerns that globalization is negatively influencing the transition to young womanhood, with girls feeling much more appreciative of the new gendered opportunities provided by the influx of external influences.

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Parents, Sons, and Globalization in Tanzania

Implications for Adolescent Health

Marni Sommer, Samuel Likindikoko, and Sylvia Kaaya

As the global youth population grows exponentially across Africa, there is increasing recognition of the risky health behaviors impeding boys’ healthy transitions through puberty. This study in Tanzania sought to capture boys’ voiced experiences of transitioning through adolescence, and the masculinity norms shaping boys’ engagement in risky behaviors. A critical finding was the gap in parent-son communication around pubertal body changes and avoidance of risk behaviors. Findings also suggest influences from globalization and modernization are changing boys’ pubertal experiences and introducing new challenges for parents attempting to provide guidance. Given evidence from high-income countries indicating parents can serve as protective factors for young people during the transition through adolescence, additional research is needed to understand current parent-son dynamics and potential interventions.

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Fatima Khan, Claudia Mitchell, and Marni Sommer