We see and hear every day that girls in Malawi are being denied an education, forced into marriage and subjected to various forms of violence. Yet, many of us know that girls hold the power to break the inter-generational cycle of poverty which has gripped our country. With education and support, girls can transform their lives and be a powerful force for change. Malawi has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with approximately 1 in 2 girls married by the age of 18 which has posed to be a great risk to their lives; fistula being one of those many risks.
To amplify the voices of young people and to fortify their efforts to advocate on matters that affect them, Plan International Malawi mobilized a representation of youth advocates from different quarters into a national level steering committee referred to as the Youth Engagement Advocates. This group is intended to be a platform for capacity building and networking among young advocates in order to unify and fortify their local, national and international advocacy efforts. The young people in the core group are engaged in youth initiatives under Plan International, Timveni, Action Aid, World Vision International, Save the Children, Youth Consultative Forum, GENET and youth networks under the National Youth Council.
The advocacy agenda for this core group is centered on the information dissemination and enforcement of the newly enacted Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act, while simultaneously seeking for a constitutional amendment of section 22(7) of the constitution which allows for the marriage of a 15 year old with the consent of their parents. This is in contradiction with the new law and thus still presents a major gap as far as protecting young girls from early marriage is concerned.
initiative serves as a call to action for a collaborating effort in fighting
against child marriage, and thus rallying everyone especially young people to
take charge of this campaign, and raise the awareness levels in their