The fight was bravely fought in Malawi by a woman, Theresa Kachindamoto who became Dedza District Chief 13years ago. Upon assuming the position despite her fear of incapability and her reluctance of resigning from her post as a secretary in another district has successfully brought hope to the lives of many young girls.
Theresa, who’s the youngest among 12 children is also a mother of five. She fought to put an end to early child marriage in her district. She believes every child has the right to be educated undermining their gender.
Speaking with Al Jazeera she said she was shocked to see girls as young as 12 years old with babies on their hips.
She said, ‘I told them: “Whether you like it or not, I want these marriages to be terminated.”
Many of the teenagers under 18years are been married under customary law because of their parents inability to carter for them despite child marriage been illegal in Malawi. One mother said, ‘Most [parents] say “its better that she gets married. We can’t afford to keep her … she will make us poorer”. Malawi is presently rated as the 8th with highest child marriage in the world.
However, Theresa has successfully annulled existing child marriages and banned it in future by getting her 50 sub-chiefs to sign an agreement putting an end to such practice. If she finds that families can’t afford their daughters’ school fees, she pays for them herself or finds someone who is able to help.
She has been able to make her policies effective by suspending sub-chiefs who refused to comply and also by creating a network of parents who make sure girls are going to school and not staying at home doing household chores and childcare. She told UN Women that she talks to the parents, saying, ‘I tell them: if you educate your girls you will have everything in the future.’
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