Malawi: Mj Political Aspirants Sign MOU to Protect Young Girls

Mulanje — Political aspirants for the May 21 tripartite elections in Mulanje on Saturday signed a memorandum of understanding with Malawi Girl Guides Association (MAGGA) with promise to provide a suitable environment for girls to attain quality education once voted into power.

The agreement was signed by politicians from different political parties as well as those contesting on independent tickets in the presence of Traditional Authorities, officials from government departments and parents.

In patronage were also girls from different schools across the district who, after presenting their petitions, demanded action from the politicians to deal with challenges they face while pursuing their education.

"When politicians go to parliament, we want them to discuss the problems we face and help us," student Fortune Kamowa said.

Mulanje District has been one of the leading bad examples when regarding incidents of forced early marriages, high HIV and AIDS prevalence rate, and school dropouts among young girls.

Speaking after the event, MAGGA National Coordinator, Mphatso Baluwa Jim said the event was fruitful as they had agreed with the politicians on how best to work together.

She said the politicians had been oriented on the challenges young girls encounter as well as the role they are supposed to play.

"We tell them what we are already doing in their areas and challenges girls are going through.

"We also tell the aspirants what we expect them to support us with," she said.

Speaking on the timing of the meeting, MAGGA Vice-President, Esme Tembenu said it was crucial to meet the aspirants before the elections as once they ascend to Parliament they become 'untouchables'.

She, however, urged the aspirants to empower young girls with knowledge and resources in order to curb the high rate of school dropout in the district.

"Some schools where these students go to do not have resources where they can take care of themselves during menstruation and there are some children who have been sexually abused but they don't know where to report to," she said.

One of the aspirants, former Member of Parliament for Mulanje-Pasani, Angie Kaliati pledged to continue supporting young girls and boys, an initiative he said he started in 2014.

"When I went to Parliament in 2014, I noticed that there are so many challenges our young girls and boys face, especially in the education sector.

"So what I did was to spare some of the money I was getting monthly so that I could pay fees for the needy," he said.

Some of the things the young girls are demanding include bursaries for the needy and stopping forced marriages.

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