Religion, Gender, and Wellbeing in Africa argues that, in many African societies, ideas and practices of wellbeing and gender relations continue to be informed and shaped by religious epistemologies. The contributors affirm that for many Africans, it is through religio-spiritual frameworks that daily experiences, interactions, and gender relations are understood and interpreted. However, for many African women, religions have functioned as a double-edged-sword. Although they have contributed to the struggle against issues such as colonialism, gender justice, climate justice, and human rights, they have also endorsed and perpetuated sexism, heterosexism, homophobia, and the denial of human rights for a wide variety of people on the margins. The chapters within this collection demonstrate that most religions and religious formations in Africa have not yet positioned themselves as forces for wellbeing, gender justice, and security for African women and children. The contributors challenge simplistic and superficial readings and interpretations of religio-spirituality in Africa and call for deeper engagements of the interplay between Africa’s religio-spiritual realities and the wellbeing of women, particularly around issues of gender justice, reproductive health, and human rights.
Chammah J Kaunda is assistant professor at the United Graduate School of Theology, Yonsei University, Korean Republic and research fellow for the Southern African Institute for Policy and Research (SAIPAR).
Introduction: Encountering “the Voice” of Wellbeing in African Contexts
Chammah J. Kaunda
Part I: Religion, Gender, and Public Health
Chapter 1: The Transferability of Selected Theologies of Isabel Apawo Phiri on HIV and AIDS Prevention and Care to Christian Women in Southern Malawi
Rachel NyaGondwe Fiedler
Chapter 2: Pastoral Care and Social Support for Elderly Orphans in the Era of HIV and AIDS
Lucy Thokozile Chibambo
Chapter 3: Covid-19 and Violence against Women and Children in Zambia: A Gendered Perspective
Bridget Nonde Masaiti Mukuka
Chapter 4: Religion, Women’s Reproductive Health and Rights: Engagement of Religion in Implementation of The International Conference on Population and Development Program of Action (ICPD Poa)
Chapter 5: The Role of Religion in Public Life: COVID-19 and Gender-based Violence in Kenya
Martin Munyao and Elizabeth Kithuka
Chapter 6: COVID-19, Masculinities, and Religion in South Africa
Part II: Religion, Gender, and Violence
Chapter 7: Restoring Peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Abigail’s Model of Courage, Faith, Humility, and Forgiveness
Esther Lubunga Kenge
Chapter 8: Identity, Masculinity, and Contested Domains in Africa’s “Religious” Conflicts
Sokfa F. John
Chapter 9: Listening to the Voices from Below on Marital Violence and Silence: The Case of Judges 19
Sinenhlanhla S. Chisale
Chapter 10: (Mis- or Re-)Interpretation of Islam Sacred Text, Marriage, and Spirituality
Chapter 11: Pentecostalism, African Tradition, and Singleness in Zimbabwe
Chapter 12: Politics of Spousal Shaving of Pubic Hair: The Narrativity of Bemba Marriage and Hidden Violence Against Women
Chapter 13 The Impact of Theological Education of Pastors’ Wives in the Baptist Convention of Malawi (BACOMA)
Conclusion: Isabel Apowa Phiri on Religion and Wellbeing in Africa
Julius M. Gathogo and Chammah J. Kaunda
Currently, when the whole world is under the blow of a deadly pandemic, this remarkable book, which points to questions of religion, gender and wellbeing in Africa, is a hope. It helps to understand and to address in context the evolution of COVID-19 like that of other diseases, as well as various challenges that prevent the full development and the blooming of vulnerable people of all sexes especially the elderly, women, and children.
The richness of this book is that it brings together the reflections of various authors from several African countries on hot and various topics. They are knowledgeable about their backgrounds and take seriously the desire of their people to live better life. They scrutinize the complexity and multifaceted challenges that unfold in their diverse cultures and sift them through the liberating Gospel before proposing appropriate solutions.
There are writings of this kind, but this one, written in honour of Prof. Isabel Apowa Phiri, is a real wealth, and I highly recommend reading it. Working methodology based on experiences and which lead to solutions adapted to the African context are deployed. The authors offer useful trajectories, such as open doors to hope.
Religion, Gender, and Wellbeing in Africa interrogates pertinent public health and wellness issues which affect the African continent, such as HIV/AIDS, COVID-19, and gender-based violence, as reading lenses to interrogate and debunk the gendered nature of the health crises in Africa. The volume challenges, resists, and exposes the patriarchal and toxic masculinities and femininities which are embedded in African religions, spiritualities, and cultures. The contributors commit to articulating and proclaiming life-giving, health-conscious, women-affirming worldviews, theologies, and interpretations of sacred texts. A must-read for scholars, students, and the laity interested in studies on the intersection between religion(s), (African) women, and health issues.