The Coalition has come under fire recently for their association with Robert Chiwamba who had in the past made ignorant and insensitive comments about rape and defilement. The Coalition which is made up of the following organisations: Global Health Corps (GHC) Malawi Alumni, Women Lawyers Association (WLA), Malawi SRHR Alliance, Young Women Rise (YOWORI), Malawi Network of Older Persons’ Organisation (MANEPO), Association of Women in Media (AWOME) and Action Aid have been working on an online campaign against Gender-Based Violence (GBV).
Having discovered that their association with Robert Chiwamba undermined their project, they released a statement apologizing for any misconception and announcing that Chiwamba had since been withdrawn from the project and would no longer be working with the coalition. Social media users have voiced their opinions that this misconception could have been avoided had the coalition done its due diligence before engaging him as an artist for the cause. Other users have questioned the need to prove that men are on the side of this campaign and why female artists were not sought out to champion the campaign. Some of the comments that were circulating also deemed the idea of an “anti-rape” theme song inappropriate and felt that the artists involved had no credibility as they had not previously campaigned against GBV until a lucrative opportunity was presented to them.
The realization that women’s rights and feminist organisations create larger spaces for men on their platforms is more evident than ever. The impact of a man speaking and championing women’s right has less of an impact due to the simple fact that a man can never truly understand what it means to be a woman, a woman who is worried about being a victim or has been victim, how do we expect men to know what’s best for us if they have never been us. Several individuals have voiced that organisations feel that without the “he champions” statement attached to their campaigns then nothing can happen. Others have criticized the coalition for only taking action after being attacked and have suddenly taken the route of introducing a female artist to the mix simply to meet the demands of community feedback. It is time to realise that men cannot speak on women’s issues, that is not to say we do not need the support of everyone but expecting a man to have an impact on an issue he does not relate to in the name of diversity blurs the aim of what campaigns against GBV are created for.