The problem of gender relations: reflecting on cultural strategies for change

Convenors: Rakel Kavena Shalyefu, Haaveshe Nekongo, Helena Amadhila & Mascot Muchali, Unversity of Namibia

Contact: kshalyefu (at) gmail.com

Seminar room: TM107

Format: Hybrid

The shameful statistics of the cases of gender-based violence and a high number of divorces should spur Namibian educators, politicians, and parents to work together to give young adults direction and guidance and to collaborate in finding solutions. Recent statistics indicate high levels of divorces and gender-based violence occurrences. Consequently, the trends in gender relations reveal not so impressive occurrences.

The purpose of the workshop is therefore to solicit contributions from stakeholders from various regions in Namibia and elsewhere to unpack the causes of gender-based violence and to suggest interventions needed for transforming the understanding of gender equality into good gender relations through education in Namibia. The purpose of the workshop is therefore to unpack the concepts of gender, gender equality, gender-based violence and gender relations. In addition, this workshop requires both presenters and participants to hold conversations that will suggest innovative, contextualised, pragmatic solutions based on evidence and related-study findings.


Israel Henok Mengela

Immacullate Mogotsi

Madeleine Arnot


Israel Henok Mengela, Life Coach for soldiers

The aim of this paper is to solicit discussions that are aiming at solutions to the Gender-based violence acts. Gender Based Violence (GBV) refers to any violence that is directed against anyone based on his or her vulnerable state of their biological gender. Generally, women are the most vulnerable in terms of GBV. It is recorded that 2 out of 3 women are victims of GBV than other gender. Even though GBV may be in many types of relationships such as between co-workers, friends, relatives, siblings and even in married couples, studies have shown that GBV is recorded to be higher in relationships that are romantically created i.e couples in distance, close relationships, cohabiting or married couples. This paper purpose to expose factors that contribute to GBV in relationships, such as: lack of respect, insecurity, change of place, increase in family size, childless marriages, lack of communication, financial dependency, cultural shame, etc. It would further solicit discussions on how to resolve the issues of GBV in Namibia and elsewhere.

The presentation is aim to contribute to the suggestions for solutions to end GBV in romantic relationships.

Dr Immacullate Mogotsi, University of Namibia Multidisciplinary Research Services, imogotsi@unam.na

Indigenization of HIV and AIDS behaviour change programmes: reflection on women’s high HIV and AIDS prevalenceand the cultural practice of dry sex

This workshop presentation will explore the cultural practice of dry sex that could potentially perpetuate HIV. The workshop presentation will further reflect on the inclusion of dry sex in HIV and AIDS behaviour change programmes. Dry sex refers to a phenomenon where women insert herbs into the vagina to reduce vaginal lubrication during sexual intercourse, to heighten male sexual pleasure. The practice is associated with tearing and cuts of the vaginal wall and glans of the penis, and this heightens the risk of contracting HIV. HIV and AIDS prevalence among women remains highest when compared to that of men in Namibia. The theoretical lenses used in this presentation will be that of Vygotsky Social Constructivist Theory and Connell’s Theory of gender and power. The literature indicates that the use of herbs to dry the vagina is a common phenomenon globally, however, in the scientific domain, the composition of these herbs and the risk they pose to HIV and AIDS and other STIs among women are not known.

There are opportunities for transdisciplinary collaboration between social sciences and biomedical sciences to assess the toxicity and medicinal properties of these herbs, in particular on matters of women’s sexual and reproductive health. The conference presentation will identify ways of knowing that is culturally appropriate and sensitive when addressing dry sex in HIV and AIDS prevention strategies.

Keywords: cultural practices, dry sex, women, indigenisation, HIV and AIDS behaviour change programmes

Emerita Professor Madeleine Arnot, Faculty of Education/Jesus College, University of Cambridge, UK. mma1000@cam.ac.uk


The knowledge gathered in the field of gender studies has been disseminated globally over the twentieth century but still pays relatively little regard to the contexts and meanings that have emerged in non-Western regions of the world. The emergence of global equality agendas in education provides a unique opportunity to consider diverse understandings of gender such as African and South Asian feminists who argue, for example, rethinking of the category of ‘third world woman’ and by implication the ‘girl child’, Western Othering of motherhood and the sexual/gendering of the body. Such scholarship demands new understandings of how ‘gender works’ within different microsystems of school, community, street, family and youth sub-cultures and the larger macrosystems of poverty, government policies, power relations and structural violence.