Masculinities, theologies and HIV and AIDS in the central region of Malawi : a case study on the church of Central Africa Presbyterian Nkhoma Synod's approach to negative masculinities in its HIV programme.
Drawing from recent research on the critical role that men play in determining the course of the HIV epidemic and the socially constructed notions of masculinities, I am particularly concerned with the relationship between religion, masculinities and HIV and Aids in the central region of Malawi. In this study, I evaluate the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Nkhoma Synod’s ‘Masculinity, Alcohol and HIV&AIDS’ project. I first place Malawian masculinities in their broader context by providing a brief survey of the historical forces that help to shape current masculinities in Malawi, tracing the key developments in men’s studies globally and discussing the role of religion in public health. I then place the Nkhoma Synod’s ‘Masculinity, Alcohol and HIV&AIDS’ project in its historical context, focusing particularly on its ‘Man-to Man’ Campaign in its broader context by offering a brief history of the Nkhoma Synod and its partnership with Norwegian Church Aid and exploring its capacity for generating social capital. Using Critical Discourse Analysis, I then analyse the official documents of the project and investigate the ideological bias in their discourse. I go on to evaluate the Nkhoma Synod’s HIV competence in its ‘Man to Man’ Campaign by using Sue Parry’s HIV competent church action framework. I show, through a careful analysis of the official documents, that some of the discourses constructed in the official documents of the project display an uncritical approach towards Malawian masculinities and a conservative view of gender relations. With respect to my evaluation of the Nkhoma Synod’s HIV competence, I found that the Nkhoma Synod was lacking in a significant number of aspects which Perry’s framework considers essential for a church to achieve HIV competency. I conclude the study by recommending further research in the assets of the indigenous matrilineal system of the Chewa people that can be retrieved and emphasised in the context of the HIV epidemic and gender injustice.