Social Science Seminar by Mayeso Chinseu Lazaro

July 13, 2016
Senior Common Room
July 21, 2016 - 3:00 pm
July 21, 2016 - 4:30 pm

Deconstructing Hegemonic Discourses of OVC Care in Contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa: The Nexus of Gender and Grandfathers’ Care Work for OVC in Rural Southern Malawi

Mayeso Chinseu Lazaro – PhD Researcher, University of Hull, England


Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) accounts for over 70% of the world’s HIV/AIDS-related morbidities and mortalities, and subsequently 85% of the global orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). Although kinship care supports the majority of OVC, HIV/AIDS, poverty, and other contextual factors have greatly challenged its capacity, leading to burgeoning ‘non-voluntary grandparenting’. Yet, research about grandparenting in SSA is scant. A few extant studies on grandparenting and OVC care in the region have almost exclusively focused on OVC and grandmothers.

Consequently, grandfathers are silent in the research, invisible in the society, and little is known about their everyday lives. Thus, this research project aims to lessen this lacuna in knowledge. Situated within the context of HIV/AIDS and poverty in rural communities of southern Malawi, the study is using intersectionality, ethnography and participatory approaches and methods to explore the place of grandfathers in OVC care, and their caregiving experiences.

Preliminary findings are discussed and implications for social policy on grandparenting and OVC care in Malawi are provided. Overall, the study deconstructs long-lived and deeply entrenched gender-biased hegemonic discourses of grandparenting and OVC care in SSA that tend to elevate grandmothers and confine grandfathers on the periphery. The study also highlights the nexus of gender and grandfathers’ caregiving experiences. The study, thus, recommends the need for recognition of grandfathers’ care work for OVC, and subsequently, their substantial inclusion in social support programmes for grandparents and OVC care. Such endeavours would play a crucial role in easing grandfathers’ struggle for survival to support growth and development of OVC with utmost efficacy. 

Keywords: caregiving, ethnography, gender disparities, gender matching, HIV/AIDS, interdependences, intergenerational relationships, intersectionality, Malawi, nexus, orphans and vulnerable children, participatory research, poverty, sub-Saharan Africa, survival.

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