South Africa has been experiencing an epidemic of gender-based violence (GBV) for a long time and in some rural communities health workers, who are trained to care for those infected with HIV, are positioned at the forefront of addressing this problem, often without the necessary support. In this article, we pose the question: How might cultural production through media making with community health workers (CHWs) contribute to taking action to address GBV and contribute to social change in a rural community? This qualitative participatory arts-based study with five female CHWs working from a clinic in a rural district of South Africa is positioned as critical research, using photographs in the production of media posters. We offer a close reading of the data and its production and discuss three data moments: CHWs drawing on insider cultural knowledge; CHWs constructing messages; and CHWs taking action. In our discussion, we take up the issue of cultural production and then offer concluding thoughts on ‘beyond engagement’ when the researchers leave the community.
Community health workers as cultural producers in addressing gender-based violence in rural South Africa.