To scale up safe motherhood and reduce maternal death, President Joyce Banda on Thursday advised parents against pushing young girls into early marriages.
The President was speaking in Balaka where she presided over the launch of the Social Cash Transfer and Clean Cook Stoves programmes in the district.
She said it is sad that the country registers high numbers of women who die when giving birth and that most of them are young girls who are most often pushed by their parents into early marriages.
“I know that had we enough resources, we could have been sending most of these girls to secondary schools. However, this is why government has come up with programmes such as the Social Cash Transfer so that we can at least assist to send girls to school,” said Banda.
She said apart from uplifting the livelihood of the poor and ensuring that people have money in their pockets, the Social Cash Transfer is giving out school allowances to pupils to encourage them to remain in school.
The Social Cash Transfer programme, which was initially in seven districts, has so far been rolled out to 15 districts and Banda said it is her wish and desire that the programme should be rolled out to all the 29 districts across the country.
During the launch, held at Toleza ground in the area of sub-T/A Sawali in Balaka North, it was also announced that Irish Aid has pumped in an extra K1.38 billion (3.5 million euros) to assist the roll-out of the programme in the district.
Banda also said the Social Cash Transfer initiative is not just about handouts but also aimed at empowering the rural communities.
On the Clean Cook Stoves programme, Banda said the project is aimed at mitigating economical and environmental costs of using firewood and ensuring that women and children’s lives are not put at risk during cooking.