The JOMA Project aims to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS in Mozambique by teaching young men to think critically about gender roles and healthy behavior. The Project began in April 2006 with a training conference for teachers and students. Participants debated the definition of a “real Mozambican man,” and discussed the impact of men’s behavior on society as a whole. They were also trained to communicate HIV prevention messages to their peers.
In the months following the training conference, groups carried out micro-projects in schools with support from PEPFAR. These efforts help to examine male stereotypes steeped in history and social norms. Several groups produced “wall newspapers” with student-authored articles exploring the social impact of HIV/AIDS. Students also created murals that raise awareness of gender inequalities and held public debates during the inaugurations of the murals.
A group at an agricultural school brought students together to practice sustainable farming techniques, and used the opportunity to also discuss the importance of healthy behavior and the social pressures faced by young Mozambican men. Theater groups created performance pieces examining gender roles by considering the community realities: fathers traveling to work in the mines, parents arranging early marriages for their daughters, and sexual relationships between teachers and students.