Gender and sex issues debated

04 August 2008

Africa unites: Prof Jane Bennett, (forth from left, back row), with researchers.

Researchers from across Africa converged on UCT in June to attend an intensive seminar on sexualities, gender and research methodologies.

Hosted by the African Gender Institute, the event saw researchers from eight different countries and from diverse disciplines, including medicine, demography, social science and theology, sharing their views and experiences on the topics.

Among the issues debated were the complexity of quantifying men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) activities for HIV-prevalence studies, to the challenge of changing laws that prohibit the termination of pregnancy.

Professor Jane Bennett, director of the AGI, designed the programme with Charmaine Pereira of the Initiative for Women's Studies in Nigeria and Professor Vasu Reddy of the Human Sciences Research Council.

The conference took place at a low point for South Africa - amid the xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals. But, said one delegate, "Cape Town weather is strangely chilly and we had been worried about xenophobia before arriving. But we are encountering here the warmth of heated and interesting debate, and the power of new alliances; my research is going to be changed forever. We are all deeply grateful to the University of Cape Town."

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