Strategies For Dealing With Problems Faced By Men Participating In A Men’s Empowerment Project In Umkhanyakude, South Africa

  • G Setswe
  • NM Nkomo
  • I Friedman
  • V Magezi
  • M Nyuswa
  • N Majola
Keywords: problems, men, causes, ranking, strategies, nominal group technique


South Africa has amongst the world‟s highest levels of sexual and domestic violence and an interrelated HIV/AIDS epidemic driven in significant part by gender roles that encourage men to equate manhood with dominance over women, sexual conquest and a range of risky behaviours. Women‟s greater vulnerability to HIV/AIDS is in part explained by the very high levels of sexual and domestic violence mainly perpetuated by men. The purpose of this study was to identify strategies for dealing with problems faced by men in Umkhanyakude using a participatory and inclusive approach.
Men in Umkhanyakude were invited to a workshop in January 2004 to carefully think through the problems that they face, then to prioritize these problems using a ranking process based on nominal group technique. They then went further to explore strategies of overcoming these problems.
Problems identified by men in Umkhanyakude range from socio-economic problems such as unemployment and retrenchments, poverty, marriage and family breakdown and men's inappropriate sexual behaviours. Health problems included premature death and illness, violent death and injury, drugs and alcohol and teenage pregnancy. A cultural and traditional problem identified was faction fighting caused by intolerance.
The four main strategies used in dealing with problems identified by men were 1) using sport as an entry and engagement strategy, 2) providing men‟s community education through public debates and dialogue, 3) providing training and capacity development and 4) enterprise development. Socio-economic problems faced by men in Umkhanyakude require broad social, economic and development strategies to deal with problems that they face.

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eISSN: 1596-9231