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Towards an African women's liberation theology of human dignity : a reflection on women domestic work in Malawi.

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The concept of human dignity is a contested term but it is also vital in the world where there are many forms of violations that challenge human beings. The concept of human dignity is crucial in that it affects all spheres of life such as religion, employment, economics, politics and so on. The world of work is another area where several forms of oppression and exploitation are manifested and in the process the human dignity of workers is greatly compromised. As the world of work is a vast subject to be discussed in one dissertation, a specific area needs to be explored in order to understand violations of human dignity. In this regard, experiences of women in paid domestic work in Malawi provide an opportunity of understanding the violations of human dignity and ways in which theology can assist in promoting the concept of human dignity. The aim of this research project is to establish how the concept of human dignity can be promoted in women domestic work in Malawi. This dissertation is developed through the works of African women theology which is grouped within the family of liberation theologies. This research study uses theological underpinnings of African women theologians who belong to the Circle of Concerned Women African Theologians (hereinafter, the Circle). The prominent members of the Circle such as Musimbi Kanyoro, Mercy Oduyoye, Denise Ackerman, Isabel Phiri and Fulata Moyo just to mention a few, present theological insights that encompass a theoretical focus of human dignity. This concept of human dignity is needed both in the church and society. The study is based on the broad framework of African women theology with a special focus on the following concepts: feminist cultural hermeneutics, gender analysis, narrative theological discourses, partnership and prophetic witness. It is also appreciated that African women theologians do not isolate themselves from global feminism; as a result, works of Rebecca Chopp will also be used in this dissertation. In many cases forms of oppression that are manifested in women domestic service such as sexual violence and humiliation, economic exploitation and powerlessness are a result of violations of human dignity. Such violations have adverse effects on the life and general health of women who work in domestic service in Malawi. It is then suggested that a clear understanding and application of the concept of human dignity in African women theology serves as a tool for social transformation in women domestic service, that is, making workplaces for women domestic work to be favourable for women in Malawi and beyond in the 21st century.


Thesis (M.A.)--University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, 2013.


Feminist theology--Malawi., Womanist theology--Malawi., Women household employees--Malawi., Theses--Theology., Feminist theology.