Enabling Civil Society to Empower Women against HIV/AIDS - A Minor Field Study on Malawi

University essay from Lunds universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: Malawi is an illustrating case of how gender inequalities exacerbate the spread of HIV/AIDS, and particularly undermines womens chance to protect themselves from getting infected. Further, a strong civil society has, e.g. by the Malawian state, been recognised as a crucial feature in fighting HIV/AIDS. On this background, this thesis attempt to understand to what extent the Malawian civil society actually holds the enabling conditions in order to empower women against HIV/AIDS. The thesis is based on empirical material collected during a Minor Field Study in Malawi, consisting of interviews mainly with representatives of civil society organisations involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS. By taking a starting-point in the concept of empowerment and exploring civil society theories, it analyses a number of conditions that have been identified to pose a challenge to the potential role of civil society. Among those are the lack of sufficient coordination, the conforming donor influence and inadequate technical skills in addressing the gender dimension, which all brings out the issue of autonomy. Overall, the conditions to a large extent derives from the paradox between the state to regulate - in terms of coordination, providing a sufficient gender-responsive legal framework, and adequate technical support - and at the same time to give civil society space to act - in terms of agenda-setting and being able to confront the state.

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