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|Title:||(Re)constructing Gender: A Holistic Strategy to Controlling HIV/AIDS in Kenya|
|Authors:||Kamaara, Eunice Karanja|
|Abstract:||If power is as fundamental to our understanding of the human social world as energy is to our understanding of the physical world, gender is the gravitational theme around which human development revolves. From the moment of birth, individual human persons are socialized on power dynamics as they observe gender relations within the most basic social unit, the family. Thus, gender injustice, basically manifested in sexual encounters, is the archetypal distortion from which all other forms of oppressive social structures and systems proceed. Traditionally, socio-cultural definitions and expectations of masculinity and femininity (gender) expect men to dominate and women to be subordinate in sexual encounters. Thus, men are expected to be sexually aggressive and active towards meeting their sexual needs by making decisions on when, where, how and with whom sex takes place while women are expected to be passive and respond to male needs without expressing their own. In spite of modernity and gender empowerment programs, at the dawn of the 21st century gender relations remain largely unaffected. Findings from my research since the early 1990s, concur with others from various parts of the world that unequal gender relations are positively related to sexual activity and consequently to HIV and AIDS spread. From an African Christian ethical and theological perspective, I focus on unequal gender power in youth sexual activity and profess gender reconstruction for the control of HIV/AIDS in Kenya. Additionally, I profess gender reconstruction as a means to overcome endemic poverty and drive the attainment of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) but more specifically for achievement of the goal on combating HIV/AIDS. At the national level, I operate within The Kenya Vision 2030, the national blueprint for development towards a better Kenya. Gender justice cuts across the three pillars of the vision: economic pillar, social pillar and political pillar, all of which are founded on individual and social morality, the central concern of this lecture. Imperative to development is the academy. Moi University Strategic Plan: 2005-2015 focuses on the pillars of Vision 2030 to invest in the education of the people of Kenya. Among the prioritized strategic issues and objectives of the plan is achieving excellence in academic, research and extension programs. Within the University, the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies focuses on enhancing understanding and promotion of the positive role of religion, a pervasively influential phenomenon in contemporary multicultural world. The call for gender reconstruction derived from my study of religion from interdisciplinary perspectives contribute to our society’s development agenda as envisioned in both Moi University Strategic Plan and Vision 2030. This inaugural lecture is divided into four parts. In the introductory part, I locate my journey in search of knowledge in the Study of Religion from interdisciplinary (socio-anthropological, ethical, theological and gender) perspectives thereby illustrating human attempts, successes, and limitations to knowledge and knowledge creation for development. I begin the second part of the lecture with a presentation of the complex socio-cultural and religious contexts within which young people in Kenya live. Against this background, I then present the sexual behaviour of young people showing how gender is embedded in it thereby bringing out the positive relationship between gender relations and HIV/AIDS spread. The third part provides a solution towards addressing the undesirable situation of gender relations and youth sexual activity by presenting what I profess: gender reconstruction. The practicality of gender reconstruction is demonstrated in the last part of the lecture which presents a local community based and community participatory initiative that has a holistic strategy towards transforming the situation of bad news of HIV/AIDS into good news.|
|Appears in Collections:||Lectures|
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