Malawi's religious institutions are still waiting for a day when the world will dedicate Women's World Day of Prayers (WWDP) towards the plight of local women, but one of the event's organizers has expressed optimism that the cup of global prayers could one day be drawn from the country.
The country first joined WWDP in 1982, some 50 years after the world started commemorating the day in the early 1930s. While the event started with less than 30 countries, the day is now commemorated in 181 countries.
Women capitalize on WWDP, which falls on March 2 every year, to draw the world's attention to the plight of women in any of the 181 countries. This year's prayers, under the theme 'Let there be justice', have been dedicated to Malaysian women.
As per custom, Malaysian women are the ones who also prepared the prayers that have reverberated across the world this year.
National chairlady for WWDP-Malawi, Regina Phanga, acknowledged in an interview Friday- on the sidelines of this year's WWDP held at St. Columbus C.C.A.P. Church in Blantyre- that the global theme has never been drawn from Malawi since the onset of the global event.
"The problem has come in due to resource constraints. The main problem is that we have no offices and operate from people's homes. People use their desktop and laptop computers and we, then, take them home because it's personal property. This renders the consolidation and collection of information difficult," Phanga said.
Added Phanga: "We even wonder about what would happen if officials from WWDP headquarters in New York decide to visit us one day. What could be their reaction upon learning that we have no office? These are some of the challenges that have affected our hopes to have the global theme drawn from here."
WWDP-Malawi contributes 5 percent of financial contributions generated on the day to New York (WWDP headquarters), with the other 5 percent going to the Africa Region office. During the 2011 event held at Zomba Roman Catholic Cathedral, Malawians contributed K220, 383, while contributions from this year's main event in Blantyre have amounted to K236, 838.
Phanga said, however, that Malawi is always "happy" to pray with other member s of the global community on the day, saying, among others, that WWDP has fostered unity among women of different denominations.
First Lady, Callista Mutharika, who was the guest of honour at this year's event, urged Malawian women to promote justice in their everyday deliberations. She also called for unity, observing that, more than ever before, women needed to unite and confront current challenges.
"I think there is no difference between the challenges faced by Malaysian women and their Malawian counterparts. The challenges include property grabbing, cruelty to orphans and vulnerable children and, just two months ago, the public undressing of women in Lilongwe, Mzuzu, and Blantyre. Justice is, surely, missing," Mutharika said.
"For us to do this, we need to deplore jealousy, especially when fellow women are doing well; fight for fellow women, especially when they have been victimized; and respect our leaders, be it political, religious, and traditional leaders. They are all our leaders," Mutharika added.
The First Lady also noted that the dispensation of justice was not the exclusive of government.
"There is no blame game on justice. Failure to execute justice is not government's problem only; it is the church's problem, the individual citizen's problem, and the problem for each and every one of us. So, let us stop the finger-pointing because, when one of these fails to dispense justice, we all fail," she said.
WWPD decided to remember Malaysian women in prayer in the wake of various socio-economic challenges faced by women there. Among the challenges are the continued sale of women, despite the enactment of a 2008 law that criminalises the practice, child defilement and sexual assault.