First Lady Monica Chakwera has said she is committed to working with non-government organisations (NGOs) in eliminating child marriages in the country.
Chakwera made the commitment Friday evening in Lilongwe at a high level dinner Plan International Malawi organised in commemoration of the International Day of the Girl under the theme ‘My voice, our equal future’.
During the event, the First Lady was bestowed with the role of a leading champion for ending child marriages in Malawi.
She said it was saddening to note that women, who are in majority, continue to make a breakthrough in almost all sectors of life.
Chakwera said this is because majority of women do not have adequate education to enable them compete with their male counterparts.
“I have joined the cause [eliminating child marriages] because I have seen that there are less educated women in this country although they are in majority. My personal commitment comes from my personal experience. I will commit to work together with other stakeholders in ensuring that all girls are educated,” she said.
“My mom was not educated but at her level, she made sure we got educated. She worked so hard and supported us all the way. Let’s join forces and promote a girl child to go to school no matter the circumstances,” she said.
The First Lady reiterated that, through her recently foundation, she will lobby other players to construct girls’ hostels across the country.
The wife to Vice President, Mary Chilima, was also decorated for championing the fight cyber bullying against girls and women in Malawi.
Speaker Catherine Gotani Hara and her deputy Aisha Mambo Adams were also crowned ambassadors for Girls Get Equal Education.
Plagues were also presented to Inkosi ya Makhosi M’mbelwa of Mzimba, Senior chiefs Theresa and Bwananyambi for their efforts in ending child marriages.
In her remarks, the Plan International Malawi Country Director, Phoebe Kasoga, assured that her organisation will continue striving to advance children’s rights and equality for girls in its interventions.
Kasoga disclosed that between 2017 and 2022, Plan International intends to reach out to 100 girls with various interventions aimed to promote the welfare of children and girls.
She they have provided spaces for girls to be engaged using media through their partner Timveni, a child and youth media radio and television program.
“We have worked with the Ministry of Gender to address topical issues of escalating numbers of child marriages and teenage pregnancies.
“We have engaged in different work methodologies and approaches and these include strategic engagement with government, partnerships with local NGOs and networks of girls among other.
“That will help us to attain freedom online by ending bullying and online harassment,” she said.
Commenting on the issue, Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati said her ministry will ensure that it dissolves all child marriages.
“Our work is guided by the National Strategic Plan of 2018/2023, where we indicated that we are going to end child marriages.
“As of now, we have dissolved over 4,000 marriages and have identified 40,000 child marriages and 15,000 early pregnancies,” said Kaliati.
She said government is committed and is working hard to make sure that all child marriages identified are dissolved and get the girls back to school.
The Minister called upon parents and guardians to desist from marrying off girls and warned that the law will take its course on those that will be found abusing a girl child.–Additional reporting by Chimwemwe Njoloma, ManaFollow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :