First Lady Monica Chakwera has vowed to continue supporting the promotion of girls’ education, calling on Malawians to join hands in securing the future of girls in the country.
Chakwera, who is Oxfam’s national ambassador on Ending Violence against Women and Girls, was speaking at Chinkhoma in Kasungu on Tuesday during the launch of a campaign to end child marriages in Malawi.
She observed that while there has been progress in enacting laws and policies that address the problem, Malawi continues to register increased numbers of gender-based violence (GBV) cases, including defilement, early marriages and teenage pregnancies.
Said Chakwera: “Government has put in place measures through the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare to address violence against women and girls, including the National Strategy on Ending Child Marriages in 2018.
“These laws and policies cannot succeed on their own. They need us all to take part in ensuring that these are being effectively implemented.”
Kasungu District social welfare officer Harris Thindwa said 1 872 children went into early marriages between 2018 and 2022, but 1 107 were withdrawn from the marriages and 217 are back in school.
However, following school closures which were effected as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the figures rose sharply to 849 in 2020, from which 612 were withdrawn from early marriages.
“Poverty is one of the reasons why many are going into early marriages,” he said.
Oxfam in Malawi’s country director Lingalireni Mihowa said through the campaign, they will work with the Parliamentary Women’s Caucus and other local structures to look at issues of social norms and other factors that are fuelling child marriages.
She said: “The spike campaign has been launched and it will be scaled up in other constituencies. The young people think they can do much more with parental guidance.”
The campaign spike is part of Oxfam in Malawi’s Ending Violence against Women and Girls project which has reached over four million people since 2017 when it was launched.
It has been supported by Oxfam Hong Kong, Oxfam Ireland and Oxfam Canada to the tune of K150 million.