University of Oulu

Egyptian teachers’ conceptions of sexual harassment prevention within schools and through education

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Author: Elmehrek, Naela1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2 MB)
Pages: 138
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : N. Elmehrek, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-06-23
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Paradis, Audrey
Menon, Sharanya
Reviewer: Pihkala, Suvi
Paradis, Audrey


Sexual harassment is a prevalent issue facing 98% of girls and women in Egypt. In July 2020, Egyptian society has witnessed a forceful women’s movement against sexual harassment, after the Instagram account @AssaultPolice was created to expose harassers and pursue justice for victims. To shed light on harassment in schools, @AssaultPolice shared stories by students about their experiences with sexual harassment. Schools have a responsibility of sexual harassment prevention (SHP) by ensuring the safety of its environment and educating towards social change. The focus of this thesis is the teachers’ conceptions of SHP in schools. Since they spend significant time with students, facilitate learning, and contribute to school culture, teachers have the potential to prevent sexual harassment.

To form a holistic understanding of the topic, the literature reviewed describes the Egyptian context of sexual harassment, feminism and sex education. Moving from local to global, international literature about sexual harassment as gender-based violence, sexual harassment in schools, and different levels to SHP at schools are explored. The theoretical framework includes the concepts of feminist pedagogy, anti-oppressive pedagogy, role theory for teachers as change agents, and school culture as an implicit curriculum. Phenomenography is used where the conceptions of 14 Egyptian teachers are collected through semi-structured interviews. The analysis of the interviews led to an outcome space that presents the teachers’ conceptions on SHP with regards to their role, the surrounding environment, and ideas for practice in the future.

The findings show that the teachers’ awareness of sexual harassment lacks connection to broader issues of gender inequality. Teachers perceive their role in SHP as a safeguarding responsibility rather than a step towards enacting social change. Teachers educate for SHP by following the school’s guidance, or by independently following their values. Some teachers demonstrate acts of feminist pedagogy instinctively, without recognizing it as pedagogy. Teachers are skeptical of actualizing their change agency beyond the school’s interest in change. Finally, teachers believe in the value of sex education but have concerns over its feasibility. This thesis contributes to the work exerted towards achieving the UN SDGs 2030 in Egypt through quality education, gender equality, reducing inequalities and peace and justice in schools. This thesis adds to the field of research on gender in education in the context of Egypt. The context as a central aspect of this thesis is useful for future researchers, policymakers, and educators in designing programs and policies that are relevant and sustainable.

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Copyright information: © Naela Elmehrek, 2021. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.