Girl children in Malawi are being called upon to be vigilant in pursing their ambitions despite the huddles they may stumble upon in their way to reach their goal. Manager for South West Education Division, Sister Eunice Dambo made the call during commemoration of International Day of Girl Child organized by Girls Empowerment Network (GENET) at Civic Offices premises in Blantyre.
Sister Dambo who was a guest of honour at the event which pulled together girls from various schools in Blantyre said the big challenges facing girls in the country is that they are being treated as inferiors to boys hence they are denied many opportunities like education which she said is a key to development.
“The problem is that a girl child is taken as a weak character in the society, not respected by some families and communities and her contributions are often ignored. But preference is gone to a male child. So as families and communities we need to change this. We should realize that [besides their biological differences] a girl is as equal as a boy in all respect,” she said.
Dambo said the negative attitude that the society has on a girl child is a leading contributing factor towards the rising rate in early marriages among girls in the country.
“Statistics show that 50 percent of girls in Malawi marry before the age of 18 while others marry as early as 12 years old,” she said.
She attributed this to some cultural practices that forces girl children into marriage. Despite these challenges, Dambo urged girls in Malawi to challenge the abusers and should understand that no one has a right to abuse them in any form and asked them to have President Joyce Banda as there role model.
“Those who don’t respect a girl child d not respect their sister and their mother. Let me finish with this Chinese proverb; “Home without a daughter is like a body without a soul.”
Speaking at the same function was the Executive Director for the Malawi Law Society Paula Caetano who encouraged the girls to be “strong and focused” if they are to be girls which Malawi will be proud of.
“Once you are educated you will have many opportunities as you will likely get a job and earn higher wages while also contributing towards the socio-economic development of the country,” she said.
In her remarks Communications Advisor for the Girls Empowerment Network Joyce Mkandawire said her organization which is running several projects that seeks to uplift the status of girls in the society will continue fighting for the rights of a girl child and exhaust all avenues that would help put girls in a rightful place in the society.