Living for a purpose with HIV and Aids

Date: December 12, 2012
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Name of the story: Living for a purpose with HIV and Aids

Name of newspaper: The Nation

Name of journalist: Pauline Mlogeni

Date: 19 November 2012

Country: Malawi

Theme: HIV/Aids

Skills: Perspective, sources

Genre: Feature

Gem classification: Gender aware


This media highlight critiques a feature published in Malawi’s daily newspaper, The Nation, about unpaid female care workers in the country. The article reports that although the said women have embarked on this initiative, they do not have resources needed to take care of HIV/Aids patients. This gender analysis focusses on the perspective of the article, images used, and sources.

The headline is relevant to the article. The article begins with a story of an HIV positive woman – Margaret Masiyano – who has teamed up with other women to provide care for people living with HIV/Aids in their locality. The title is relevant in the sense that Masiyano is living with the virus zand yet she has chosen to help other people living with HIV/Aids.

The article uses four female sources. Apart from making the article credible, the sources give the story an emotional appeal. However, the story over relies on females sources. Interviewing males to comment on HIV/Aids issues and care work would have given the article another unique perspective.

Secondly, one of the sources “reveals that many HIV patients in the society have taken up eating course maize flour as a cure for Aids.” Though challenging, the reporter should have made an effort to interview one of the patients who has abandoned ARVs for the said course maize flour.

Thirdly, the article reports that the women’s grouping was formed “as a response to the silence on HIV and Aids in the Muslim community.” If the content of the story is anything to go by, it means the Muslim community in the country seldom discusses or publicly tackle HIV/Aids issues. The journalist should have therefore interviewed a Muslim leader to comment on why Muslims are “silent” on the subject in question.

The article uses gender neutral language. Notably, the article uses “chairperson” as opposed to chairman/woman.

Visual Images
The article uses two images which are not very relevant to the piece. For instance, the big image shows a man and a chairperson of NAC team, supposedly at a meeting with the women grouping. The picture and its caption do not reinforce the contents of the article. The second image shows a close up of a Muslim woman with the NAC chairperson in the background. The caption reads: “the Muslim community also provides civic education.” First and foremost, the caption is hanging – it does not tell what civic education the Muslim community is said to be providing. Further, the caption of one of the images of the article is somehow not in line with the content of the article. An assertion by the article that the Muslim community is silent on HIV/Aids issues contradicts one of the captions the pictures which say “the Muslim community also provides civic education”.

Story Angle
Overall, the article is about Muslim women care workers. The piece details challenges the care workers are facing in their day to day care work endevours. The views of care workers dominate the story making it credible. In addition, the article brings out a “shocking” issue that needs authorities’ attention. The article reports that some people living with HIV/Aids have abandoned their treatment for course maize flour.

Placement and positioning
The editor gave the article a full features page of the newspaper. A bold headline and two images make the article prominent in the publication.

Training exercise
– Write a feature story and detail the role of religious groups in the fight against HIV/Aids in your locality/country.

Other training resources
– SADC Gender Protocol 2012 Barometer- HIV and Aids chapter
– Making Care work count, a policy Handbook


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