Thursday, September 24, 2009

Obama Addresses U.N. - MADRE Responds

September 23, 2009 - An Open Letter

Dear President Obama:

As you bring to a close your first address to the United Nations General Assembly, we know that the time for women's human rights advocates to amplify our voices is now. Your active participation in this key international discussion has set the stage for future US engagement with the world. If the Administration's efforts to have a positive impact are to be fruitful, the United States must recognize and promote women's human rights in every policy that it pursues.

On the "preservation of our planet":
You correctly identified climate change as a key issue of our time. Yet, missing from your comments were concrete solutions and the recognition that rural women hold key solutions to climate change. Women are the traditional managers of rural communities' food, water and other environmental resources. Women farmers in Nicaragua who have led the way in sustainable, organic agriculture; women in Kenya who have brought wells for clean water to their communities; women in Panama who have preserved biodiversity by protecting seed banks-these are the on-the-ground experts to whom we should be turning for models of sustainable resource management.

On the creation of a "global economy that advances opportunity for all people":
The global economic recession has been accompanied by a marked retreat from the development and poverty-reduction commitments of wealthy countries. Yet, it is in precisely such times that women's health, education and empowerment must be a central priority in all US policies.

A healthy global economy will not result from the same US-led policies that have produced mass poverty, environmental ruin, and most recently, a worldwide recession. We call on you to promote policies that uphold women's economic and social rights. Women constitute 70 percent of the world's poor. They are also the economic backbone of the world's most vulnerable communities: women are the majority of small-holder farmers and the main providers of healthcare, childcare and primary education. As such, women are central to eradicating poverty and pursuing a sustainable global economy.

On "the pursuit of peace":
In Afghanistan, abuses of women's human rights are rampant, but they cannot be eliminated at gunpoint. In fact, the US military presence undermines prospects for Afghan women to secure rights for themselves. As US troops levels have increased, so too has the power of the Taliban as more Afghans turn to them for protection from the US and its corrupt and predatory allies in the Karzai government. We call on you to shift US resources from making war to supporting Afghan-led development and human rights initiatives.

Your promise to pursue "a just and lasting peace between Israel, Palestine and the Arab world" included a welcome recognition that families pay the steepest price for armed conflict. That is why peace negotiations must uphold the full range of human rights for all people in the region. The success of any future settlement hinges on its compliance with human rights standards and international laws that guarantee peace and security for all people in the region, call for the creation of an economically viable Palestinian state, and protect of the rights of Palestinian refugees.


You concluded your address by reminding the world that "democracy and human rights are essential" to achieving the goals that you outlined before the General Assembly. We join with our sister organizations from across the world to give you this message: women's human rights are central to any sustainable solutions to the crises that we confront today. The success of your policies rests on your commitment to upholding and advancing the full range of women's human rights.


Vivian Stromberg
MADRE Executive Director

Monday, September 21, 2009

Chafukira's death

This is a very sad development. Sad not only for his family but the democratic process of the country. This is was young politician and god knows we need many people of his age. I disagreed with the way he opposed Tembo but I am sad to see him dead. I know that somewhere out there, there is a woman who has lost a loved one, children who have lost a dad, parents without a son today. May his soul rest in peace.

The way the key players in the nation state project in Malawi handle this, will help the country go forward or not. Statements like Mwakasungula's are very regrettable as no one has proof that it is Tembo who has killed him, much as Chafukira's death is mysterious. Not handling this issue well can actually jeopardize us knowing exactly who did killed this young politician, assuming he was killed in the first place.

Monday, September 14, 2009

TEMBO SHOULD GO? Not so fast - Call for an MCP Convention Please!

I am wondering why those calling for Tembo to step down, do not call for a convention where the membership can have its say. We are the bosses of politicians. What makes Chafukura and his comrades think they are speaking for MCP members. As for me, it is plain and simple, Tembo must go but so must Chafukira and a good bunch of those speaking, if they do not know what channels to follow when solving party problems. If his going is going to be premised on someone's words, them what are the party structures for? I thought people lead parties based on the mandate they get from the membership. The way Chafukira is speaking, the timing and tone - makes me think at best, wagulidwa at the least, he is just a selfish politician who wants to carve a political career out of the just ended elections. These guys say they are a legion, why can’t that legion speak at the convention, in a democratic and open process where the party analyses what happened at the elections and maps a way forward? What they are doing can even end up garnering support for Tembo who ends up looking like a victim (which he is not) and that can buy him political millage and currency. Izi sizobvuta anyamata, instead of speaking for the membersip, bwelani nonse ku Convention, anthu akakuuzani yemwe akufuna. Mukufuna muwasankhile ngati ndi ana bwanji? Muchi Shona mulimwambi wabwino umakamba zimene Chafukura and company are doing - Dzako itsitsi dzeyi kupukuta madzihwa mwana wehure. This saying is advice given to wives that when they see their husband wiping the west nose of a ‘prostitute’, it is not out of out of kindness, it is often it is because that child is his. What we are seeing here is a group of people in MCP try to carve mipando yonona by pointing at the ineffectivity of Tembo. If you ask me, all of you have a lot of stepping down and out to do. How I wish our politicians stopped infantilizing and insulting our intelligence. Respect membership voices please. Musamawatengele kokawayesa. They are the ones who live the results of your political squabbles.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Way to Go NyaHarawa - Lose the Loser

About time Wendy. You do not need people like the Fenduze nightmare in your life. I refuse to call such a person a man. He is an excuse of the male species. NyaHarawa, you are a musician in your own right, do not be brought down by wanna be's like Petersen. Glad you have found the strength to say No! to abuse and dehumanisation. This is not your fault, many of us women go through this crap, no one can live him for you, you have do it and you have done it. Good for you. That is good role modeling and female self determination. There is more fish in the sea if you are still looking. I am living proof of that. there are men who do not need to oppress women in order to feel powerful, they are not insecure like Petersen. Continue to move on and do not look back. Zabwino zilimtsogolo.

I am a big fan of fendela fenduze, well I was until I read this story. I have been promotiing this song in dance places in New York Binghamton, since it was talk of town during my latest visit home this month and of course I really liked it.

Looking at Wendy’s picture really brings pain to my heart as there are few things that make as mad as violence against women, what some usually like to call gender based violence, for me, unless both people fight each other, it is VAW, violence against women and starting from now, I will decampaign this song (Fendela Fenduze) as much as I can. I was going to present a paper on popular culture and I had written something on it but now, that is all history, Petersen can be sure he has lost this fan. I will not support men who beat women, period.

I am sure Wendy saw the experience of Rihana at the hands of Brown. My advice to you is to get out of this relationship whilst you still can. Once a beater, always one and one day you might not escape with your life. When one looks at the last line, your self esteem has already taken a beating. I know that most people will say telling someone to leave their man is prescriptive and easier said than done. Yes, whilst that is true, what always surprises me is the fact that mothers in the village did not put up with such nonsense. I have interviewed my grandmother (ANangondo) so many times and she makes it clear that whenever a husband become an unbearable pest, amamuyatsila muni. Why is it harder for us 21st century women kuyatsila anthu muni? Is it the capitalism, religion or what? Well, whatever it is, I am also a fun of you Wendy and I wish you could respect yourself as a star in your own right. That picture of you with a blue eye objectifies and makes you a helpless person. You come from a continent of strong women who have agency. Please do not act helpless and say things like you do not know what to do. Of course you know what to do, you just do not have the courage to do it. Asakulemele fenduze yo, he is not worth your life, profession and reputation. Wipe your tears, stand up and be counted like your female ancestors whose strength shook the roots of colonialism and is fighting the AIDS pandemic – who is Petersen, the Fenduze boy as compared to the battles your female ancestors hav shown you how to battle.

Jessie Kabwila Kapasula
ex Fendela Fenduze fan
Wendy’s Fan

Monday, September 7, 2009


September 7, 2009
For me this bill has exposed the following issues:

1 The myth of civil society representing the people. I remember sitting in a UNICEF meeting over this issue in 2006 but the way people reacted when this bill went through parliament exposed a disconnect between ‘people’ and those who are said to represent. There was so much furori, it made me question myself as a civil society member the validity of my role in our democracy (assuming that we have one). I think now that President has sent this law back for review, the question is how do we know that it will not just be discussed by men and women in some offices and fail to trickle down to the average Malawian, the very person whom all of us occupying spaces of power in post-neo-colonial Malawi purport to represent. Is there such a thing in the first place? Isnt such a notion a sham, an insult to people’s agency and more a way to amass power for ourselves, the educated elite rather than a way to govern? I do hope that now that we have a second chance to listen to public voice, we will take every effort to let people speak in langauges and spaces accessible to them. When this bill was passed, the fact that the age had been at 15 seemed to be news to many and the handling of this law left a lot to be desired. I hope that this time around, it will be handled better.
2 Another thing this bill exposed was the dictatorship we are now living in. One wonders why the ministry of gender would be the first one to cry fowl when all thse ministries have representitives in parliarment. Where was this opposition in parliarment, whey did it come belatedly? How many other bills are passing when people have reservations and why are those reservations come later. I am one of those people who does not see why I am paying people to sit in parliarment only to agree on everything to a point one fills they are ordered to agree with everything. What we have seen with this bill, we are in the danger of seeing it on other bills too, where people querry things outside parliarment. People who sit in parliarment need to remember that they sit there at tax payers expense and I for one do not want to pay people who go there just to be ‘yes’ bwanas whom when asked to jump just say how high. Our country seems to be quickly sliding into a way traffic in which all you here is how much ‘masomphenya’ the Ngwazi has. The past years, we had a vibrant opposition and the successes that we have registered in the year past are evidence of that. Now that we have oppositon members who can even ask the government to help choose their leader in government, one wonders what kind of year we are going to have?

3 I for one would like to see the language of this bill because the is being talked about as an issue of the girl child and last time I checked, girls do not marry themselves. I think Malawi needs to have a converstation about what marriage is and what it means to us as a people. We need to have a conversation on the link between marriage and child bearing. How does marriage impact the so called makanda and who eats these makanda. At what age parents should be allowed by the law of the land to consent to marriage, why is it that consent is directed to girl children as the media is showing it to be, is that the way the law is constructed – are issues I for one as a scholar of women issues is very interested in. I am not one who usually agrees with the President but I applaud his decision to push this law back to the people. It is clear that Malawians need to interrogate this issue firther. I only wish we could use methods that transcend western constructions, more homegrown methods to facilitate conversation amongst ourselves. Eveidently, the route of civil society representng people has been exposed to be faulty.
4 I hope the bill is written and communicated in a way that potrays marriage to be an institution of two consenting adults and not a power relation loaded institution where women are prayed on by men. Otherwise, women will continue to be infantilised in discourses of this institution and bill.