Chiefs under Traditional Authority (T/A) Mabuka in Mulanje have formulated by-laws to curb harmful social and cultural practices that deprive girls of their right to education in the area.
Mulanje is among districts that are grappling with cases of early marriages and high school dropout rates in the country.
Village Head (VH) Matewere confessed when he addressed a community mobilisation meeting at Mitawa Primary School recently that outdated socio-cultural practices and beliefs were playing a huge role in demotivating girls from going further with their education.
Matewere said, for instance, people in the district used to believe that girls who are undergoing menstruation could bring a curse on their families if they were allowed to bathe in the same room with others.
“We used to encourage girls who are undergoing menstruation to bathe at the river and sleep in a separate room until their periods are over. They are also not supposed to attend classes until their periods are over,” he said.
But Matewere disclosed that the percepetion has changed following the intervention of the Girls Empowerment Network (Genet) which is promoting girl education by sensitising communities to girls’ menstrual hygiene management in the district.
Genet project officer Lindiwe Jere commended the chiefs for the by-laws, saying Malawi cannot talk of women empowerment while retaining harmful social and cultural practices that prevent women from participating in social and economic development.