The African Women’s Hermeneutical Framework

The African Women’s Hermeneutical Framework (AWHF) is a way of theorizing and analyzing formulated by African Women Theologians. This method, founded on African Feminist principles, is coined in due consideration of the uniqueness of the African context and African experiences. In the process of constructing the Intersectionalized See Judge Act (ISJA) tool, the AWHF shaped the conceptualization. This was actualized in three phases which include:

i. Contexts Analysis – the context of the community and the context of the religious text
ii. Issues Identification and Analysis – from the perspective of those affected
iii. Action Planning – to explore requisite intervention actions led by those affected

The principles of the AWHF which support the process of intersectionality are framed around the three phases mentioned above. Facilitators and participants in the ISJA community study are equally guided by these enablers in their conversations around contexts, issues identification and analysis, and in action planning. These include:

Inclusivity

Recognize that all people in their diversity are welcome to the space of conversation since no one owns the space.

Affirming

Uphold a commitment to affirm humanity’s diverse uniqueness and inherent dignity.
Positionality Be reflexive by looking inwardly and outwardly to check your own biases. Ensure you are objective by not relying on your own views about others.

Contextual and Communal

Give attention to unique characteristics that define contexts and how these impact people’s identities. Also pay attention to issues emerging from the context of the community and those emerging from the context of the religious text. Allow the community to lead the process of identifying the issues, analysing their impact, and exploring ways of addressing them to promote ownership and leadership of the process by the community.

Focus on Experiences

Prioritize listening as an approach to facilitate identification of issues, and descriptions of their impact from the perspective of those affected. Actively listen to these narrations of lived experiences to be able to understand.

Religion, Cultures, and Patriarchy

Analyse religion, cultures, and patriarchy as social structures of power within which the issues identified operate.
Analyse religion from an awareness that it can be a tool of oppression as much as it can be a tool of liberation and transformation. In this regard, examine ways in which religious authorities (religious texts and religious leaders) have authorized and defended religious instigated oppression and discrimination; then assess strategies of subverting this oppressive religious power manifested in actions and attitudes. Emphasise transformative ways of reading, interpreting, and applying religious texts and associated attitudes.
Analyse and objectively critique aspects of African cultures in the text, in the context of the community, and as raised in the conversations.
Analyse patriarchy as an ideology that distributes power unequally thus leading to exclusion of minorities at different levels.
Recognize religion, cultures, and patriarchy as social categories that shape structures of power, identities, and the impact of issues identified. Consider how these categories then determine one’s position of privilege and/or discrimination.

Gender Justice

Prioritize promotion of gender relations based on equality, mutuality, and respect for diversity, rather than on hierarchy and domination.
Rootedness in Life
Prioritize and promote life giving and life affirming interventions and actions.