Welcome to all who just joined us. We are glad to have you here. Please make sure you introduce yourself in Week 1. Great information being shared about religious and cultural norms from different countries and I believe we can all relate to information being shared here. Let me share some insights from our WhatsApp group:
Ngwenya Denis: For a very long time, cultural norms have determined the roles that women and men are to play in this part of the world. Even before the arrival of Christianity which is the dominant religion here, the cultural norms dictated what roles are expected from boys and girls. Before civilisation, people here were mainly hunters and gatherers. Men would be expected to go out in morning to hunt animals for meat while women would go to gather fruits, berries etc. Naturally, men were considered strong hence things like hunting were only for men. It was unheard for women to say they are going to hunt. They were relegated to lesser roles and those that were deemed to be humiliating for men. For example it was a taboo for a men to be seen cooking in a kitchen hut. Men were only allowed to cook only the food which was eaten by men ONLY like a cow head.
Men/boys were reprimanded if ever seen carrying a child on the back. Such a practice was a taboo and thought to make men/ boys weak and bring back luck. As such, there were roles that were considered to be for women only and those for men only. Such practices still continue in most of the communities but the situation sometimes forces some of those practices to die. Take for example a man whose wife has died of COVID or any other cause and leaves behind small children. The man will have no choice but to care for those children, bath them, wash for them, cook for them until such a time when he re-marries and gets a new wife to assume those duties. In the past, orphaned children would be taken to a relative ( aunt or grandmother) to look after them until the man has settled.
Enter religion. The coming of Christianity did change things somehow. Whilst most of the cultural practices were condemned as barbaric, ( which was not true anyway) the hearers of the message were women and children. Most men stayed at home and never had time to go to church to listen to those sermons ( they still do it even now). Women constitute the bulk of church goers.
Messages from the Bible like the one which talks about “women humbling themselves before their husbands” is usually misinterpreted by some men to mean that women should put with whatever things come her way. Hence the inequality between men and women continues to exist to this day with men being the main beneficiaries of the system. Some armed by the cultural norms that have been passed from generation to generation while others misquote the Bible to remain on top of the ladder.
2022/02/28, 08:39 - Jipson Banda: Very true. On Church going, I think it is an issue of reluctance and criticism. But we can bring in the issue of choice of religion.
Automatically, when a man marries a woman, the woman joins the religion of that man whether she wants or not. A choice of own religion by a woman is considered as insubordination or challenging the man.
Other men are able to let women exercise their right to religion.
Where the woman is able to exercise her right to religion, the religion that a man attends might bring him under tough questioning. It is considered to signify lack of man’s control over his house.
A scripture from the Holy Bible in paraphrasing says that; he who can’t manage (demonstrate leadership control and or abilities over) his family cannot lead people “ecclesia”. So consideration goes beyond recognizing the right of a woman on choice of religion.
2022/02/28, 09:00 - Kebby Sianjame Zambia: In a Zambian set up, people are mostly controlled by cultural norms. For example, girls of age are taken in isolation and taught on how to entertain men and also told that they can not talk about leaving their husband until he does so. If the family slaughter a chicken, there are some parts regarded as for the man because he is regarded as being more powerful. Some boys have married early because it is believed that if the boy plays a musical instrument called Kantimbwa in some Tonga tribes, that will mean the boy is of age and is read to Mary. Sometimes, the boy will marry a girl who is under the age of 16 just because the man who is the head of the family has approved the marriage even when the mother of the girl and other older ladies had a deferent view. Such cultural norms in the past had brought about many female teenegers losing their lives during child birth and on the other hand because of marrying at an early age, some Tonga men will want to marry more than one woman.
Though a lot have changed due to deadly diseases and the introduction of Christianity, in the past, it was believe that when a woman gets married, it was to the family and not to an individual, that is the reason why when her husband dies, she will be given to someone else before t not as a choice because t because m n in the family have already chosen someone to take over. This is because there was a belief that a woman will not survive on her own and be able to look after children.
This has greatly changed owing to Christianity which preaches equality of male and female in the eye of God. The bible talks about Women being weak vessels but it emphasize that there is need for the men who are stronger to help women archive their goes.
The bible also talks about Women to be call hairs to men in the Kingdom of God, this means that, though men are consider by the society to be stronger than women, the men will not inherit the kingdom of God without helping women.
2022/02/28, 09:38 - +254 759 732332: Exactly, even here in Kenya if a man marries a woman ,she has to change the religion she has grown in to join man’s ,and this sometimes can lead to end of relationship especially if they didn’t know earlier each other’s religion
1.( a)The Bible encourages wives to submit to their husband and man to be head of the wife as it is in Ephesians 5:22-23
(a) at household level women are expected to carry out all household chores while men are supposed to be bread winner
Women are also expected to look after the children and the sick.
Women are supposed to be subservient to their husbands while men are said to be the head of the family.
2. At community level women are not supposed to speak before their male counterparts
2022/02/28, 12:29 - Oliver MALAWI: Q2. About stereotype.
(a). Women main important role is to look after child then and no need for education. The attitude has harmful effect on social economical development of the women as well as the community, since education plays a vital role in development of any society.
(b) men are trained to be courageous, this might lead sexual harrassment towards women whom they believe are generally weak and can cause spread of HIV among women
2022/02/28, 12:31 - Oliver MALAWI: Q3. (a) Civic educating men to appreciate the role women play in the society.
(b) encourage the media to incorporate positive gender messages into programs such as soap operas…
Media should play a major role to sensitize these Gender issues.
2022/02/28, 13:00 - Alfred Mungwa: Another great week
Back in my great country Zambia traditional and cultural norms are still at pick, let me start taking about polygamy, people are still practicing this dirty habit meanly in southern part of country Zambia without considering HIV/AIDS and other STIs.
I personally feel that cultural norms affect women and girls as some sections of Bible are been mislead such as wives to submit it to their husbands, while almost all house chores are done by female folks only.
Let me talk about education, as broadcasters, it’s our role to make sure that we take lead to sensitise the communities issues to do with Gender.
Hance, other women those who had opportunities to gender issues messages are not helping in fighting but they are busy to abuse it, they end up been big headed wives, husbands doesn’t receives respect from them at all.
And that, leads to those men’s even if they receive sensitation, they still stick to cultural norms.
2022/02/28, 17:06 - +255 712 321 932: Hellow everyone,I m Fatuma Mtemangani a female journalist working with presenter SHAMBA REDIO FM here in Iringa Region of Tanzania
Come to the discussion
Amongst the masculinity traits which are considered by Tanzanian society to be approriate for men include; being the head of the family, providing the family with essential needs, making decisions in the family, taking leadership positions in the society and making a woman a wife.
2022/02/28, 17:22 - Patrick Mentor: Here is my write up in response to Week 2 questions:
What are the religious and cultural norms regarding men and womenâ€™s roles (household, community) in your region?
One can easily understand the prevailing religious and cultural norms regarding menâ€™s and womenâ€™s roles in Malawi by observing the current gender equality issues in the country. Overall, as of December 2020, the country met less than 42% of the indicators needed to meet gender-related UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Nearly 70% of women in Malawi live below the international poverty line.
One in four Malawian women who are in the age range 15-49 have experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner
42% of women in Malawi ages 20-24 were married before their 18th birthday;
9% were married before they turned 15
Only 47% of Malawian women have autonomy over their bodily and reproductive health.
The above facts point towards cultural norms regarding menâ€™s and womenâ€™s roles in Malawi. Malawi is a very religious country (more than 90% of the population belongs to a particular religion). Some religious commentators have voiced that religion does not provide a solid foundation for gender equality. If anything, religion offers a solid base for gender inequality as it seems to put women and girls in the subjugation of the menfolk. These gendered norms have been familiar territory for generations of Malawians, bolstered by religion and culture.
What are some stereotypes coming from these roles, and how can they be harmful to individuals and communities? (Try to emphasize men and boys)
There are a few stereotypes that have helped oppress women and girls. I will focus on one: access to education.
In many cultures in Malawi, when a family has fewer resources, and they have to choose whom to send to school between their boy and girl-child, they prefer to send the boy. They believe that the boy child would bring a better return on their investment since the boy will remain in the village (patriarchial system) and support his parents when they get old instead of the girl child who will get married and go to live with her husband away from her family.
This belief is a stereotype. Many studies have shown that girls tend to support their families more than boys, who pursue their individual goals at the expense of their parents or siblings.
Child marriage, lack of adequate sanitation in schools, and gendered violence in the classroom are obstacles to girls regarding this very fundamental human right. They all find fertile soil in the stereotype that girls have fewer abilities than boys and will be married away to other families. By not sending girls to school, parent families, villages, and society lose. Studies show that educated women tend to have fewer children and have them later in life. This trend generally leads to better outcomes for both the mother and her kids, with safer pregnancies and healthier newborns.
Furthermore, UNESCO found that a single year of primary education increases a girlâ€™s wages by up to 20% later in life. An extra year of secondary school can improve their wages by up to 25%. Interestingly, women generally invest up to 90% of their income back into their family, compared to the average 30â€“40% that men invest back into their households and household income controlled by women changes spending to benefit children.
How can we advocate for men to share (unpaid) care responsibilities more equally? (e.g. domestic duties including raising children from birth)
As broadcasters, we need to feature more success stories where households that have involved men and boys in equally sharing unpaid care responsibilities have demonstrated more happiness and success for both sexes. There is much work being done by government agencies and NGOs to transform traditions that oppress women and girls into ones that promote them. For instance, an international NGO called Concern Worldwide implements the Umodzi (United) programme to make men and boys understand the need to do the untraditional chores. Such untraditional tasks include washing dishes, cooking, going to the maize mill, drawing water from a borehole, changing nappies, etc. in the home. The programme has produced many role models (boys and men) who do non-traditional tasks happily. Many women explain how simpler life has become because the households share responsibilities equally. So, if we dedicate some of our airtime towards producing such programmes and engaging different stakeholders on the topic, we can have outstanding results. We need to start now; talk is cheap. Over time, featuring more such stories on the airwaves might become the new norm adopted by many.
2022/02/28, 20:09 - Joshua Baba Madaki Nenzit FM: My take on Week Two:
- What are the religious and cultural norms regarding men and womenâ€™s roles (household, community) in your region?
Culturally, men source for food for the family, protects the family, provide for their health, they are the decision makers at home as heads of the families; they decide what would be planted where, they farm, weeds, harvest, while women only plant the seeds, apply local manure/fertilizer, convey the harvest, thresh, prepares and cook food, do the dishes, wash the plates, wash the clothes women are given the quantity of what she would cook for the day etc.
Where death occurs, first, men must established and confirms that it is true, otherwise no woman is authorise to cry publicly. Equally, women are not allowed to go to where dead occurs until men certifies that.
Religiously, women are not supposed to head a church (that is gradually changing now), they are not allowed to serve communion (depending on the denomination), they are consider weaker vessels, Adam was created first, they are men’s help mate, they are to submit to their men, they are to be loved and cared for, and they are to be given out for marriage by men etc.
- What are some stereotypes coming from these roles, and how can they be harmful to individuals and communities? (Try to emphasize men and boys)
There is an ability of leadership in every individual irrespective of whether men or women. The more the yawning gaps of entrenching some of these religious and cultural norms it widens and feeds the stereotyping in the younger generation (boys). e.g who says it is only girls that can cook? who says it is only girls that can do the dishes? who says it is only girls that can sweep and clean up the house?
My personal example here; when i was growing up; i wash, clean, sweep, take the goats out and cook food while going to farm at the same time as a boy, and that hasn’t changed till today, because i still do the same thing as a father showing my children (boy and a girl) and I bet you the truth,they are already copying what i am doing.
Government policies as regards communities too are stereotypical in nature, when a vaccination program or any health related program is aimed to focus on “women and children” - free health programs for women, special loans, skills acquisition for women, free political forms or position for women etc. These indications may be subtle in nature but carries a parasitic stereotyping to women.
- How can we advocate for men to be more involved in sharing (unpaid) care responsibilities more equally? (e.g. domestic duties including raising children from birth)
I think it would not be out of place to carry out advocacies in the community, religious organizations, and the media with adequate information on the various stereotyping issues. Dicussions of such should be done inclusively outlining the importance of engagements by all parties - raising children to teach them and equally rationed roles to them not separating roles to them.
This should be seen as a win-win situation because of its importance. For instance, chores at home should be rationed: everyone be involved in the chores, cooking, farming, weeding, fertilizer application, harvesting etc.
2022/02/28, 22:04 - +260 97 2484043: According to my understanding in Zambian traditions there are certain things which man can do and things which women can do
Eg preparing bed. A man can’t prepare if a wife is around.
A husband sweeping a house when a wife is there .
It’s not in good faith if a lady/girl child is looking after cattle while a boy child around.
There are certain things which men and women can both do . When we say gender we are looking at everyone should involved eg cooking, Leader, decisions making
Religiously, women are not allowed to preach before the men but depending on doctrine.
Women in church have there duties, eg sweeping in a church .
You can not put days for men to sweep in church…
On educationally other people say don’t marry a lady who’s educated than you. This is why most of educated ladies are not married.
Traditionally they a women can’t be marry tow men but men can marry more than 2 wives which is not good.
But at the end each person has an impact to bring development in a community and world at large.
We should respect every gender, race, tribe , religion,etc
2022/03/01, 07:09 - Patel Zim In SA: Well explained, in our country and in my religion ,a man goes to woman’s church only the day they are getting married .The man must go marry the woman at her church then he can bring her to his house,however this is not a force matter for the woman to join the man’s religion because its also there in there in the constitution that everyone has the right to choose his or her religion of choice.
2022/03/01, 07:24 - Patel Zim In SA: Regarding question 3,honestly it’s very hard to change or convince an african traditional man because he belives deeply to were he is rooted. e.g. if a woman is pregnant she still has to fulfill her duties as a wife (washing clothes ,sweeping the yard etc)while a man is sitting .He would rather let the woman feel pain doing all the house chores just to secure his reputation and avoid being called names by the community. However we can come up with maybe a radio program that runs through out Africa in large,which will be educating the public in particular the men , we get the feedbacks of what they suggest or see then come with the solution
2022/03/01, 07:47 - Joshua Baba Madaki Nenzit FM: There are African traditional norms that will take a long walk before any change can take place.
It would be a great idea for a workable program to be put in place across the broadcast media which will bring players to the table of discussion on radio to bring to bare the issue on the front burner.
It is in such discussions that issues gets public attention that might lead into law making towards prohibition e.g Female Genital Mutilation, Early Child Marriage, Child Labour etc.
Therefore, a workable solution based program should be put in place with all identifiable cultural and religious norms as it affects the development of the society.
2022/03/01, 08:14 - Ngwenya Denis: Good morning all. I’m following these wonderful contributions with a lot of interest. You have mentioned something that I think is being mishandled in most countries. The issue of child marriages is not being addressed properly. Let me give an illustration: In my country, the last two decades have been very difficult for the general populace due to the economic meltdown. There was a mass exodus of people going to other countries in search of greener pastures. The standard of living greatly declined and the poverty rate surged quickly. In most rural areas, a significant number of children ( including girls) don’t proceed to secondary / high school because the parents/ guardians are too poor to afford fees etc.
The girl child stays at home performing all the household chores like washing, cooking, fetching firewood, tending to the fields etc. Eventually because they have nothing meaningful to do, they end up at around 14/ 15 coz the parents/ guardians cannot afford to cater for their needs like sanitary ware etc. Then the people who fight for the rights of the girl child or should I say who purport to fight for the girl child take over. They make a lot of noise and sensationalise the issue of the early marriages presenting themselves as ramparts against such practices. Not that I blame them. No. But here is where I differ with them: When you have a problem you address the fundamental root cause than make empty noise on symptoms. They will make noise and claim to be representing the girl child whose rights have been violated. They get generous funding from big international donors and then they buy fancy cars and beautiful houses in posh suburbs while the “real” victim whom they claim to represent is deep in rural areas wallowing in poverty without anything to look forward to. If these activists were honest, they would campaign strongly and lobby the governments to enact legislation that ensures every child stays in school until he/ she reaches secondary school. Another thing they should do is simply identify those children who drop out of school and then use the money they get from donors to cater for the welfare of those children ( including taking them to school ) instead of blowing that money by hosting endless seminars and workshops in hotels and collecting huge allowances in the end. If that is not done, unfortunately the early marriages will persist for many years to come. In my experience I realised that it is children of poor people who get married early. Children from well to do families don’t have time to even think about marriage coz they have so many priorities isn’t life than marriage. I’m 100% sure that you will NEVER witness Mo Ibrahim or Moise Katumbi’s daughter thinking of getting married at 16. The root cause is poverty though sometimes certain religious and cultural practices are to blame. No girl will think about marriage at 14 when her mind is occupied with issues of progress!
2022/03/01, 08:22 - Ngwenya Denis: *they end up marrying at 14/15
2022/03/01, 08:54 - Sk Sisonke G Justice: Dear all, I believe that culture and religion is s very important because it control people behaviour as they will be afraid to badly exposed the their culture and religion. However this believe can damage if people believe on something that cause harm to the society. E.g. child marriage, condom usage, unsafe circumcision etc. For example, I went to traditional circumcision, My culture don’t allow me to redo circumcision but I had to circumcised again since I realized that my foreskin was not removed completely. In other words, partial circumcision. You can read my full story by googling Sikhangele Mabulu
2022/03/01, 09:02 - Joshua Baba Madaki Nenzit FM: Absolutely @263773586444, these and many other factors as you posited needs to be checked if we want to make headways as regards child marriage.
In fact, as you pointed out, some cultural norms are truly triggers of irregular migration alongside bad governance, crisis, hunger, poverty, environment, religious and economic.
African leaders seems to hyped so much on good governance but achieving little: infrastructure, education, economic, and agriculture etc.
Leaders needs to be proactive, elected parliamentarians needs to go down to their constituencies, listen to the needs of the people, look into some of these things (religious and cultural norms) seek a wider consultation on how we can move forward because certainly some of these issues are not good indicators for development and especially to the future generations to come.
2022/03/01, 10:33 - Jipson Banda: I have found out that churches have well established policies that say that a man marrying should before marriage bring his wife to join him. That is to say if you don’t bring your wife in, no marriage blessings from the church.
2022/03/01, 10:52 - +265 995 55 39 51: In addition to your points here in Malawi especially rural area if child get sick (or some health needs) culturally it’s a duty of wife to go to the hospital with that child
2022/03/01, 11:31 - Jipson Banda: Something worth looking into. Perception has it that men are less emotional as compared to women. So in a case where one is a woman has to take care (be a guardian) of that person.
For example. If a woman gets sick, in the case of Malawi, a husband will summon that woman’s mother sister or any other relative but female to take care of her but if it is a man sick, a wife would be guardian.
This act defines a man in a way if investigated further imperialistic. Every human is blessed with emotions.
2022/03/01, 11:35 - +254 759 732332: 1) “Cultural norms are expectations or rules of behavior and thoughts based on shared beliefs within a specific cultural or social group.
(A)The roles of men and woman regarding (community)
In Kenya communities,women are expected to be obedient to their men (husband’s) and also not to challenge or to disagree with their views.
On the other side men are expected to support their families financially by ensuring provision of family needs such as food.
(B) The roles regarding households
In the communities man is considered as completely head of the family and will rarely participate in household chores.
To women,they are expected to care for home and the children especially in rural areas which highly lack some modern means of living as they have to look for firewood for the family,go fetch water
I simple terms community believe that there are works meant for men and for women, no matter this there are some work which are believed to be for men but women are doing and vise versa
-it is considered to be common for for a man to leave their rural areas and move to Urban areas to look for better employment opportunities , something which lead to work load to women ,as they have to do some works meant for their husbands same to theirs
Religious norms are principles held by individuals in line with the beliefs perceived by their religious leaders.
Christians may have opposite views on households roles but they all believe that both men and women are all valuable to God,as God created man in his own image. Meanwhile community believe that man should go work and earn living for the households hence believe that women are to stay home and look for the home as well as children.Also other believe men and women can perform same roles if they wish in the households,where they believe man can do house chores and women Can work to earn a living ,this is under the Bible teaching that men and women were created equal hence considered having equal opportunities in life
- communities consider men are head of the households hence to provide e living, this is harmful because boys being raised under this belief will see women are not equal to them . Some men are doing works meant for women and women same.A woman will go and work for his children to get food and other needs .
A point where women are considered to be households some times leads to abuse by their husbands,example you can find a situation where woman has to do all house chores,care for children,cook for family ,then it happens she does not do in time especially cooking ,then a man comes he needs to eat to go back to work ,then he find wife has completed cooking and he in Harry,He will start harassing the women where was she, forgetting she has many chores in house to perform
there are many chores for girl child compared to boy child,due to these beliefs about role of man and of a woman in a community something which encourage lazy upbringing of boy child,because many house chores are done by the girls and boys have less to like only that of looking after domestic animals like cows and goats.
Also boy child being raised knowing that he’s to be the head of the family encourage them to consider themselves more important than girl child,and hence they will think girls have nothing to say,their views can’t be considered,they won’t give them space to give their views and opinions about any issue in family.
- To advocate for men to be more involved in sharing responsibilities equally we should…
Make men understand that each one equal and gender can not tell one can do this ,one can not tho that ,by giving them examples of women who have done it in life no matter their gender reveal ideas.
Challenge negative masculinities in which it’s most extreme form is discrimination ,violence towards the feminine ,this manifests itself mostly at home,at work in public spaces and also in schools
Educate Society that it has to include each one in the society ( by considering all gender) no matter is one has less power in order to progress
help transform power dynamics ,this is because most men fear that empowerment of girls and women losing out but equality benefits all,example sharing of care and domestic tasks in the home encourage more satisfaction and happy relationships.Also in labour force greater equality leads to better levels of production and satisfaction too.
Be against all forms of discrimination and abuse ,and then help to create a new type of man by addressing men’s fear and resistance. Support girls in taking the lead as we promote girls and women’s leadership to achieve peaceful and sustainable world.
2022/03/01, 11:38 - Ngwenya Denis: Why is it so? When the woman gets sick the man summons her female relative to look after her or sends her to her parents home to be cared for until she recovers. But if it is the man who has fallen sick the woman takes care of him until he recovers or dies…
In some way the man is not able to deal with sickness and the woman can…
2022/03/01, 11:46 - Jipson Banda: As in most cases, society has regarded the man as a breadwinner so when the woman is sick, the man has to go on looking for provisions. But if a woman who works has her man hospitalized, she doesn’t send the man to his relatives instead excuses herself from work.
A funny example is a scenario where if a woman is sick and a man leaves her with relatives for work, a woman does not say anything. But if a man gets sick a woman does the same. The moment that man gets better, that marriage is done. “This woman is evil, she failed to take care of me when I was sick, caring for her job”.
These are small issue but they have piled up stones that have become norms amongst us.
2022/03/01, 11:49 - Jipson Banda: In the scenario, I have presented above, you can see that women suffer in silence. When it is a man doing it, they act as if it is okay with them .
2022/03/01, 12:13 - Kebby Sianjame Zambia: Very true, And I believe that people should understand that we do have statutory law in most cases is superior to the traditions and cultural norms. So these law if they are taught to our children now, then our grand children will better understand that where the other person’s rights ends, it is where the other person’s laws starts from. We need to do away with some traditions that are in conflicts with the humans rights. We should also understand that the laws has been in existence for a long time but have not been obeyed due to ignorance.