Changing Men and Transforming Masculinities: Practices, Perspectives and Resources

Report of a Seminar on the Transformation of Masculinities in African Christianity, January 2011

As a result of the HIV epidemic, concepts of masculinity in sub-Saharan Africa have become
problematised and are contested. Dominant versions of masculinity in African cultures and
societies are often associated with the spread of HIV and with gender-based violence. Against
this background, UNAIDS has underlined the need for active masculinity politics: ‘Given the
urgency of curbing HIV rates … it is important to challenge harmful concepts of masculinity,
including the way adult men look on risk and sexuality and how boys are socialized to become
men.’

The intersections of religion and masculinities are complex: on the one hand, religion is often
considered a factor that sustains or reinforces problematic notions of masculinity, while on the
other hand religion is considered a resource and instrument to change men and to transform
masculinities. This seminar explored the constructive role of religion in the transformation of
masculinities, particularly focusing on Christianity and Christian theology in sub-Saharan Africa.
The seminar was held at the occasion of the conclusion of the research project Religion,
Masculinities and HIV, co-funded by ICCO, Prisma, Kerk in Actie and Utrecht University. At the
symposium, the major findings of the research were presented, discussed, evaluated and
explored.

The speakers were Dr. Adriaan van Klinken (Centre IIMO, Utrecht University), Dr. Fulata L. Moyo
(Women in Church and Society, World Council of Churches) and Prof. Dr. Ezra Chitando
(University of Zimbabwe & EHAIA). Prof. Dr. Martha Frederiks from the Centre IIMO, Utrecht
University, chaired the seminar.

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