Theologizing food autonomy for maternal health : a case of Mashobye Methodist Women's Manyano in Limpopo Province.
Seitisho, Storia Cynthia.
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Food and health have been declared universal basic human rights for all people. However, studies have shown that women and poor rural women in particular lack access to adequate food and nutrition for their individual and family survival and therefore experience poor maternal health. Despite this, studies have shown that food insecurity is not a result of insufficient food production in the world and South Africa in particular and also that food is the mainstay of health. The reason why I suggest that food autonomy could offer a solution to Mashobye Methodist Women‟s Manyano experience of food insecurity towards the promotion of maternal health is twofold. First, is that the society and women themselves regard household responsibilities and household food provision in particular to be women‟s responsibility. Second, research has shown that an understanding of the links between women‟s reproduction, production and caring activities could help solve problems women face in Sub Saharan Africa. Since the MCSA commits to combat poverty and the empowerment of women as part of its mission, the research question of this study sought to examine the role that the MCSA has played in promoting MWM achievement of food autonomy towards maternal health. The methodology used in order to attempt to answer this question was in-depth one-on-one interviews and focus group discussions with Mashobye Methodist Women‟s Manyano. These discussions revealed that food autonomy could contribute to the promotion of maternal health but that women‟s participation in food production is the only way they could achieve food autonomy. This study has revealed MWM‟s passion and determination to achieve food autonomy as women united to contribute money for seeds in order to start a food garden. This food garden is currently feeding eight women who are joined by three men. This transformative praxis could also change societies‟ perception of women and enable social structures, systems and economic institutions to incorporate women‟s full participation in the social agenda. In the conclusion of this study, it was suggested that MWM hold two workshops and a Bible study. The workshops will conscientize women of the experiences gained during in-depth interviews and focus group discussions and to strategize ways of sustaining a food garden. A bible study will be to promote the equal participation of women and men in the image of God in order to transform experiences of oppression and dependence towards the ability to achieve food autonomy for the promotion of maternal health for MWM.