Involving Church and Community Leaders on issues of Maternal Health on the Health, Gender, & Theology Pilot Project

Date: May 19, 2014
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The Church Forum on HIV on AIDS coordinates the Christian response to HIV & AIDS in Swaziland, and works with Christian based Organisations and Churches involved in the fight against HIV & AIDS. The Church of Sweden promotes gender justice and gender equality in its development work in the ecumenical context, and has partnered with the Church Forum on HIV & AIDS in a pilot program; Health, Gender and Theology. The pilot project uniquely collaborates with Siphilile in working at the grassroots level in maternal and child health with efforts that are aimed at strengthening the role of the church as an agent for change in matters related to Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR). The project further trains church leaders and involve in-depth theological reflections for masters students from the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN), aiming to strengthen the churches to be relevant actors for increased health and gender equality in the communities.

Through the Health, Gender, and Theology pilot project, the Church Forum has partnered with the Siphilile (a project for mentor mothers on maternal health in Matsapha, coming up with an outreach component of the pilot project). This partnership has assisted trained community and church leaders by bringing to light, real life issues occurring in the Matsapha area, and helping University of kwaZulu Natal (UKZN) masters students come up with research topics for their thesis.

Similarly, partnering with the University of Kwa- Zulu Natal students and lecturers in the Masters component of the programme, through exchange visits, has assisted in bringing about a more serious classroom situation for the benefit of the church leaders. This has granted an opportunity of relating issues on the ground in the communities to academic philosophical and theological theories.

All in all, the tripartite collaboration in this pilot project by the three (3) organisations: The Church Forum, Siphilile, and UKZN, has created a very unique synergy of efforts of Maternal and Child Health, Sexual & Reproductive Health (SRH), HIV, and Gender in the context of Theology.

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