Power dynamics and participatory communication: The case of reproductive health and food security in Malawi

TitlePower dynamics and participatory communication: The case of reproductive health and food security in Malawi
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Chim'gonda-Nkhoma, J. J.
Affiliation (1st Author)University of Reading
Section or WGParticipatory Communication Research Section
DateWed 26 June
Slot CodePCRW3a
Slot Code (Keyword)PCRW3a
Time of Session14:00-15:30
RoomQG22
Session TitleCritical approaches to participatory communication initiatives
Submission ID6905
Abstract

Power dynamics and participatory communication: The case of reproductive health and food security in Malawi This paper argues that social power influences communication processes in a development and hence participation in the processes which may have positive and negative implications on the development. The paper contributes to the debate on participatory communication for development with some evidence from a study. The study whose purpose was to examine the impact of social power on communication processes for reproductive health, and food security interventions was conducted in Malawi. It specifically aimed to assess the role of social actors in communication processes for two different development interventions. It also aimed to identify factors that motivate actions of powerful social players. A qualitative approach using a case study methodology was employed to address the research objectives. Two villages were selected purposively for an in-depth examination of power participation and communication in both reproductive health and food security interventions in separate villages for comparison purposes. Data were collected using focus group discussions and key informant interviews. Focus group participants were selected purposively based on their active participation in the individual interventions. Key informants were identified using a snowballing technique. Data were analysed using NVivo9 software. Themes were constructed from the NVivo9 reports and comparisons were done for the two sites. Results of the study show that social power and culture in the study areas affect participation in communication processes by women negatively. The findings further show that in spite of having the biggest stake in both interventions women participate the least in the communication processes. This has negative implications on ownership and sustainability of the interventions being supported by the development workers in the study areas. The study recommends reorientation of powerful social actors, ordinary men, and women on their respective roles in development in general. The paper concludes that harnessing popular participation and communication processes for social change may improve ownership and sustainability of development interventions being supported in the study areas. Key words: Communication and participation, power dynamics; reproductive health; food security; women; Malawi Author: Jerome Chim’gonda-Nkhoma, PhD student, Livelihoods Research Group, University of Reading

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