Gender imbalance in Malawi music

By Harold Kapindu

One question that bothers me is, why do we have few female artists in Malawi especially those doing secular music yet they dominate in every nation music competition? Folks, this is a serious issue and something is definitely wrong with our music industry.

Some time ago, via his facebook page producer/radio personality Dizzo quizzed if Malawi has a female music producer. This thought never crossed my mind but when the question was posed I really thought it was important. From the comments, it was quite clear that Malawi indeed has no Missy Elliot. Then I started pondering as to why this is the situation despite the whole debate on gender equality, 50/50 representation and all that. So many questions came in the picture.

Is it something to do with our culture? If so then why are they dominating in music competitions? Or is it because of the public perception that secular female artists are associated with immoral behaviour? If this is the reason then we are still a primitive nation.  Maybe is because the local music industry is not lucrative? Well, fair enough.

Perhaps it has something to do with how our music industry is set up where one has to struggle to make it because there are no record companies. But if they can’t face the struggle and compete with male counterparts then how come they are fighting for equality?

Its high time female artists stopped being used on features or as backing vocalists in live performances. If you really want equality then take the steering wheel and prove that you can do whatever men can do. And gone are the days when females were being used as sex symbols in music videos to attract viewership, have some dignity and be proud of your body.

We need strong women who can challenge men and stand up for themselves. Strong women like the ones we have in Gospel music the likes of Ethel Kamwendo Banda, Thoko Suya, Favoured Martha among others. Most importantly, Malawians need to change their mindset on how they see secular female artists. This is 2016; we need to move with time.

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