“Disillusionment and Fear: The Impact of Zambia’s Religio-Political Climate on Sexual and Reproductive Health Organizations”
Margaret Anderson has had her internship research paper “Disillusionment and Fear: The Impact of Zambia’s Religio-Political Climate on Sexual and Reproductive Health Organizations” published in the latest peer-reviewed issue of the Southern African Journal of Policy and Development, Volume 5, Number 1.
“Various trends affect the operations of civil society organizations related to sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH) in Zambia. Firstly, there is a dramatic unmet need for SRH services, and organizations are scrambling to meet this need in the face of many barriers. This is coinciding with increasing political repression on civil society, especially targeting civil society organizations (CSO) with politically sensitive underpinnings. A Christian demographic and institutional revival is reshaping the social and moral framework of the Republic.
This research investigates the context of SRH organizations in Zambia and assesses how organizations related to SRH are impacted by the religious-political environment. Results were found through a literature review and semi-structured interviews in Lusaka, Zambia with stakeholders relevant to this issue. It was found that the work of SRH CSOs is implicitly controlled by both the government and religious institutions through legal and extra-legal measures. As a result of this context, the study found changes in CSO issue focus, CSO relationships and attitudes toward the government, and CSO operational security and sustainability. By controlling public spaces and obstructing freedom of assembly and expression, the state is obstructing the Zambian people’s access to healthcare. A key finding is that as undemocratic as the current regime’s actions are, more detrimental to the Zambian health sector than government repression may be how CSOs are responding to it. Organizations are responding with disillusionment and aversion to political engagement as a result of shrinking political space, Christianity, and the invasive stigmas of SRH work in Zambia.”