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Waiting for a turn

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In an ideal situation, human society is supposed to be a totality in relation to its parts.

And, in a country where women are more in numbers than men [in fact making up 52 percent, according to the National Statistical Office], women were supposed to overrun men in more aspects than domestic work, which, sadly, is the area men willingly reserve for women.

However, this seems not to be the case in the creative arts industry where, if the Malawi Writers Union (Mawu)/First Merchant Bank Short Story Awards are to be taken as a measure, the closest a woman has come to the coveted title is second position.

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It must be a fact highly troubling to Mawu president, Sambalikagwa Mvona.

“Of course, the closest a woman came to winning the Mawu/FMB Short Story Awards is second position,” Mvona said in an interview on Thursday.

In fact, as if deeply sensible of the difficulty of reconciling the interest of men and women in writing competitions, Mawu established a category named Best Women Entry.

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It is a way of dismantling the vast, connected, infinitely monopolistic empire men seem to have established for themselves in short story writing.

And, having found liberty and safety in their own company, women seem to enjoy battling it out in their own empire.

But Mvona does not want this to be the case and says Mawu is making inroads in sparking the interest of women writers so that writing may become as exciting to women as it is to men.

In fact, Mvona points out that the writers’ body has made progress in uplifting the status of women.

“When it came to our attention that there was apathy [among women], we put in place mechanisms to address such issues, one of which being the idea to have the Best Women Entry category. Women are also welcome to be participate in Most Imaginative Writer and Best Upcoming Writer categories,” Mvona said.

Apart from these categories, Mawu and FMB also give out two consolation prices.

That said, there is one position writers covet, and that is the first position. For this position, both men and women compete and the battle has, so far, tilted in favour of men.

“Of course, we give out grand prizes to those on first, second and third positions, with two consolation prizes. We then consider writers for the other categories,” Mvona said.

This Saturday, the battle is on again and Malawians will be looking forward to the winner during Mawu)/FMB Short Story Awards event to be held in Blantyre.

It may as well be a woman, but there are no guarantees!

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