Early Childhood Marriages in Malawi
Malawi is one of the countries that has been leading in early child marriages in the past years, however tremendous efforts have been put in place in order to curb such marriages.
This month, Malawi hosted several other African countries at Mount Soche in Blantyre where Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa said that Malawi has registered progress towards ending early child marriages during the opening of the four day conference which was organized by the United Nations (UN) under the theme Dialogue with traditional & cultural leaders on child marriages.
The Minister further said the country is one of the model countries that have enacted legislation on prohibiting marriage before the age of 18.
Nankhumwa also pointed out that as a country, there was need to strengthen the law by extending the age of the child to 18 thereby prohibiting any marriage before that age.
“Most Malawians approximately 85 per cent of the population live in rural areas and as such there is need for us to engage with culture custodians as front liners in challenging the negative harmful cultural practices that foster an environment of child marriages,” Nankhumwa observed.
However, the Minister commended the engagement of traditional leaders in the fight against early child marriages considering that many interventions are driven by traditional leaders and those norms are shaped mostly by cultural beliefs.
He hailed UN Women Regional Office and all its partner institutions for choosing Malawi to host the sub continental conference highlighting that the country is making tremendous efforts in curbing early child marriages by putting in place by-laws and policies against child marriages.
Minister of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare Dr Jean Kalilani said child marriages have a huge bearing on the development agenda of nations in the East and Southern Region of Africa as they escalate high population growth, maternal mortality, illiteracy and other indicators of poverty in Africa,” she noted.
Kalilani highlighted the tremendous efforts that Government is doing in curbing the rate of early child marriages.
“Currently, over 46 per cent of girls are married off at the age of 18. This is a lesser percentage when compared to 2015 which was about 50 per cent. One key driving force for the reduction is political will from President who is one of the three Head of States among the nine global Champions who have committed to end child marriages and violence against women,” the Minister explained.
During his contribution, Sheikh Ahmad Chienda from Islamic Information Bureau asked the participants to ponder on decreasing environments accommodating early child marriages like the availability of rest houses in residential areas, reducing or closing up loopholes that are exacerbating to under-age girls patronizing drinking joints across the country among others
The four day meeting was mainly focusing on traditional leaders involvement in formulating policies that will assist in curbing the rate of early marriages and female genital mutilation (FGM) in Africa.