Research in a self-study conducted with three other Muslim female teachers to explore their leadership experiences in personal and professional spheres, culminated in Dr Rashida Khan graduating with a PhD in Education.
Supervised by Professor Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan and Professor Inbanathan Naicker, Khan’s thesis was presented in a creative manner using story writing, collage and drawing.
Khan considered leadership from multiple viewpoints, including from Islamic and feminist perspectives. It was the first study in South Africa on Muslim female teachers’ leadership.
She discovered that Muslim female teachers were capable of leading in the personal and professional spheres but often experienced impediments related to patriarchy, religion and culture.
‘Muslim female teachers’ voices are crucial in leadership development as it is important for them to express their views in decision-making, making choices and overcoming restrictions. Male and female family members, community members, and colleagues needed to support leadership in Muslim females,’ argues Khan.
She suggests that complimenting, affirming and validating Muslim women’s successes would strengthen their leadership and build Muslim communities. Religious and traditional values and practices should not be barriers to women’s leadership development and for them to access opportunities. Men and women in power within school communities should understand that Muslim female teachers possess the competencies to lead. Openings and support should be created for them to take on wide-ranging leadership roles beyond the school’s confines.’
She feels her thesis adds to the research literature, internationally and locally, on Muslim female teachers.
Khan thanked her family, friends and supervisors for their support.