‘Do No Harm’: An Analysis of a Gender Transformative Programme with Faith Leaders in Africa.

Friday, 20 July 2018: 18:15
Oral Presentation
Rafael CAZARIN, Department of Sociology, University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU, Spain
In the past decade, a growing number of organizations focusing on sexual and gender based violence have aimed their programmes towards men and boys as those who often hold decision-making positions in their communities. Yet, in highly religious settings they face the difficult task of combining secular and religious concepts to promote values of gender justice and equality among beneficiaries while turning them into potential ‘activists’ for the cause. This paper examines such gender transformative interventions carried out by a non-religious NGO with faith leaders from various Christian denominations. The data collected comprises workshop reports, participant observations and interviews with stakeholders (NGO experts and faith leaders), conducted on the past six months in 9 African countries. The paper shows how particular sessions that challenged gender socialization and values of masculinity have led faith leaders to initiate a process of gender awareness in the ‘front stage’. This process redefines particular emotions, psychosocial responses and vocabulary surrounding the notion of a ‘transformed masculinity’. Along this way, stakeholders seem to ‘heal’ their lived experiences of gender violence rather than reviewing harmful gender values at the religious and cultural domains. Finally, I critically engage with the gaps and potentialities of this outcome in the quest of gender justice activism.