Women representatives from across the country will on July 10 hold a solidarity march themed ‘I AM JANE ANSAH’ to show their displeasure on personal attacks against MEC Chairperson Justice Jane Ansah following the May 21 presidential poll, Mary Navicha, Minister of Gender, Children, Disabilities and Social Welfare, announced on Monday.
Ansah has come under a barrage of insults and degrading sexist statements from the opposition and rights activists demanding her resignation as MEC Chairperson, accusing her of mismanaging the election results.
“I call upon all women, young and old, rich or poor, professional and non-professional to congregate at Old Town hall on July 10 at 8am for a peaceful solidarity march,” Navicha said in Blantyre, at a meeting convened by the newly established Forum for Concerned Women., whose Chairperson is Seodi White, a prominent rights lawyer and Chief Director of the Public Sector Reforms under the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC).
“This will be a peaceful march because Jane Ansah is a peaceful woman,” the Minister said, narrating the “persecution, intimidation and humiliation against a very prominent, professional, respectable and a God-fearing woman, Dr. Jane Ansah, SC, Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeal.”
Ansah denies any wrong-doing and insists she can only resign if the constitutional court hearing the opposition petition for a re-run of the presidential race gives a verdict of the case which has gripped the nation.
The Minister, cheered on by scores of emotive women who contiuuosly chorused “I am Jane Ansah”, narrated that it was at the point when Ansah announced the winner of the presidential election as Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, that “all of a sudden Jane Ansah became a victim of extreme intimidation, harassment and insults never seen before in the history of this country.”
She said the intimidation started by “those leaders who did not accept the results simply because they wanted to win.”
SEXIST STATEMENTS DEGRADING TO ALL WOMEN
The Minister said during demos against Ansah, “they carried insulting placards and uttered generalized sexist statements against Dr. Jane Ansah.”
She said sexist and degrading statements to “one Jane Ansah is degrading to all women of Malawi.”
On the call for her resignation, Navicha said those calling for her head were “doing so because she is a woman,” adding that the MEC Chairperson “did not wake up and decided to announce results from her head.”
“Dr Ansah did not make up figures from her head. She announced results that were agreed upon and signed by all political party monitors and stakeholders including some of those calling for her resignation today.”
The Minister said results of the May 21 elections “were certified as free, fair and credible by all international observers.”
“Unfortunately, the past month has been a nightmare for Ansah because she has been harassed by leaders and men who disrespect women. Unfortunately, there are some women who have been brain washed by these men and have joined in the harassment of a fellow woman.”
ATTACK ON ANSAH IS ATTACK ON ALL WOMEN
She said as Malawian women, “we cannot continue to watch in silence. An attack on Jane Ansah is an attack on all of us women. As women, we will rise up and march in solidarity with Ansah to end this calculated violence against a fellow woman.”
Navicha, a DPP lawmaker, said: “This is patriarchy at its worst. This is gender based violence of the extreme. Jane Ansah is being persecuted for doing her work professionally. Her work on behalf of the people of Malawi.”
She said Ansah was a legitimate citizen of Malawi who did her work professionally and that calling for her resignation is a violation of her right as a citizen and woman of Malawi.
“This harassment towards Ansah and all Malawian women must stop forthwith. Jane Ansah is a role model to girl child.”
White said that the issue at hand was “a gender issue and violence against women.” She said the march was non-partisan and all women from different political parties were invited to join the march which will be guaranteed of security.
TRAUMA OF BEING WOMAN DOESN’T SEE COLOUR
“A woman is a woman and the trauma of being a woman doesn’t see colour. An insult to one woman is an insult to all of us,” White, who alongside other women sobbed at the meeting in pity of Ansah’s plight, said.
She said she couldn’t believe Ansah has “suffered this much and yet she still stands strong.”
White said for the first time, she was afraid of her own country and fearing for her life because of Chakwera, Chilima, Mtambo and Trapence, king leaders of the demos.
She added: “I have never been this afraid. We women are under attack.”
But she insisted that the battle will continue to defend women. “Jane Ansah must not fall. Enough is enough. This violence must come to an end.”
The solidarity march will start from Old Town Hall through the main streets of Blantyre, Kamuzu Highway and a brief stop at the Upper Stadium before proceeding to Civic Offices to present a petition.