23 March 2018

Malawi: End Child Marriages, First Lady Urges All Malawi Citizens

Photo: Nyasa Times
First Lady Getrude Mutharika (file photo).

First Lady Gertrude Mutharika has persuaded Malawians to be champions in protecting children especially girls who are often subjected to early and forced marriages.

She was speaking on Thursday in Neno at Kam'mwamba ground during the launch of Ending Child Marriages.

Madam Mutharika said all Malawians should be part of the solution to end child marriages in the country.

She said: "It's sad that until this age some people are still practising cultural practices that put women and young girls at risk. This usually starts as a result of selfishness and it's time we have to change."

First Lady urged people to encourage young girls to go to school to become useful citizens and contribute to national development in future.

She also said it is now time to empower women and girls so that they remain at school to achieve their goals.

Mutharika then called upon women to support one another in economic development.

She also highlighted the seriousness of child marriages in the country and said these are perpetrated by harmful cultural practices and ignorance.

The campaign is be championed by World Vision Malawi.

World Vision Malawi National Director, Hazel Nyathi said about half the population of girls in Malawi get married before their 18th birthday and attribute this to lack of attention by caretakers such as parents and guardians.

He said the launch of the campaign by World Vision Malawi is a demonstration that stakeholders are convicted to help government end child marriages in line with the legislation which allows girls to go into marriages after 18 years.

Nyathi also said the other negative side of child marriage is that it interrupts girls education and dreams.

She reminded the gathering that lower levels of education are found among women who married in childhood.

Nyathi said the practice of child marriage further contributes to economic hardship, human rights violations, and under-investment in the educational and health care needs of children.

"Tackling child marriage is a strategic way to advance women's rights and empowerment in several areas, ranging from health, education, work, freedom from violence, and participation in public life," she said

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