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Silence, invisibility and agency: concealing pregnancies at school in Mozambique

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Silence and invisibility have received relatively little scholarly attention. When they have, they have been mostly considered in deficit: something to avoid and walk away from. In this article, I depart from that mainstream position to contribute to the growing literature around how silence and invisibility may be positively associated with power. I do this by considering the case of Mozambique, in relation to the management of pregnancies in the school setting. Here, national policy 39/GM/2003 indicates that girls that get pregnant while in education should be transferred to night classes. This measure responds to wider imperatives to bridge the gender gap in education by attempting to limit the occurrence of pregnancies in mainstream education. Yet, the policy is met with resistances, as young women in education enact a number of strategies to conceal their pregnancies and, thereby, the transfer to night course. Against this backdrop, I ask: what do silence and invisibility tell us about agency and identity? I engage with this question by weaving the voices and experiences of research participants within theories of development, feminist theories and local discourses of gender. By doing this, I argue that silence and invisibility may be powerful tools for agency, which denote an understanding of the main discourses of gender on the girls’ part, but also the capability to use such discourses to one’s advantage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1195-1213
Number of pages19
JournalGender, Place & Culture
Issue number8
Early online date23 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020


  • Silence, invisibility and agency_ concealing pregnancies at school in Mozambique

    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography on 23.10.2019, available online:

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 222 KB, PDF document

    Due to publisher’s copyright restrictions, this document is not freely available to download from this website until: 23/10/20

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