By Catherine Mwamvani
Malawi is making tremendous efforts in curbing early child marriages by putting in place by-laws and policies against child marriages.
Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Kondwani Nankhumwa said this Tuesday at Sunbird Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre when he opened a consultative and dialogue meeting with traditional and cultural leaders and institutions on child marriages and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) from East and Southern Africa Region.
He said the country is one of the model countries that have enacted legislation on prohibiting child marriage before the age of 18.
Nankhumwa 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” the Minister observed.
Nankhumwa 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 culture.
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.
“Child marriages have a huge bearing on the development agenda of nations in our region as they escalate high population growth, maternal mortality, illiteracy and other indicators of poverty in Africa,” she noted.
Kalilani highlighted the tremendous conceited efforts that the 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 our President who is one of the three Head of States among the nine global HeForShe Champions who have committed to end child marriages and violence against women,” the Minister explained.
The four day meeting is mainly focusing on traditional leader’s involvement in formulating policies that will assist in curbing the rate of early marriages and FGM in Africa.
The Consultation and Dialogue meeting has brought delegates from East and Southern Africa is expected to be concluded on Friday.