Renowned gender activist Seodi White wanted a boycott of the International Women Day (IWD) commemoration attended by President Bingu wa Mutharika to protest governmentâ€™s hostile approach to issues affecting the masses.
Leaked series of communication among women activists show that there was fierce exchange of words before the Civo Stadium function on Saturday, March 17 2012.
White, national coordinator for Women and Law in Southern Africa Malawi chapter, led the demand for the boycott, arguing the activists were supposed to stand in solidarity with civil society organisations (CSOs) activists being victimised by government.
â€œ[This is a] call to remind ourselves that we are missing an important opportunity to make our concerns known. We are continuing to engage with an Executive which is clearly antagonistic to us and would be happy to see us somewhere else.â€
The communication said the women, led by NGO Gender Coordinating Network (NGOGCN), were being hypocritical because on one hand they felt for the victimised activists while on the other they rubbed shoulders with the Executive.
In an interview, White confirmed staying away from the commemoration based on her principles.
Boycotting not a good idea
However, NGOGCN chairperson Emma Kaliya said boycotting could not have been a good idea because the event was an international day that was commemorated worldwide.
Kaliya also played down the division talk among activists, saying no one has openly protested after the event.
â€œLet me also mention that whatever decisions were made at that particular time were done in consultation with all the members as we have always done,â€ she said.
National Womenâ€™s Lobby Group executive director Faustace Chirwa said she was against the boycott because she believes that politics should be separated from development issues.
â€œThe day is meant to acknowledge the contribution of women to socio-economic development of any nation and since they are in the majority hitherto, this has not been appreciated by most government,â€ said Chirwa.
During the commemoration, Mutharika said his government has lined up several programmes aimed at uplifting women. He also condemned men who grab deceased estate and discouraged the culture of petty jealousy among women.
Activists mentioned to be under threats are Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation executive director Undule Mwakasungula, acting HRCC national coordinator the ReverendÂ MacDonald Sembereka, Institute for Policy Interaction boss Rafik Hajat and youth activist Habiba Osman.