Long Read

Malawi votes to end child marriage

Great news! After years of campaigning by youth groups and organisations including Simavi, Malawi has voted to end child marriage completely.

Last week, the country’s parliament voted in favour of the amendment to criminalise child marriage under the age of 18. While child marriage had technically been illegal in Malawi since 2015, it had been possible for boys and girls aged between 15 and 18 to marry with parental consent. However, Malawi’s parliament voted 131 to 2 in favour of removing this loophole.

In 2015, Malawi had the ninth highest rate of child marriage in the world. This amendment is a historic milestone that will ensure a better and healthier life for millions of Malawian girls. It’s the result of a campaign led by amongst others The More Than Brides Alliance in Malawi (consisting of YONECO, GENET, Simavi and Save the Children) that had been advocating for the amendment since early 2016. Two of Simavi’s local partners, YONECO and GENET were strong advocates even before 2016: YONECO, implemented the Unite Against Child Marriage project and is the Chair of the National Task Force on Ending Child Marriage Campaign in Malawi; while GENET is the secretariat of the Malawian Girls not Brides Chapter.

Child marriage is a violation of children’s rights to health, protection, and bodily integrity, and impedes sustainable development. Not only that, tackling child marriage is critical to reducing maternal and child mortality Therefore Simavi is working hard to put an end to the practice of child marriage across the whole world – and progress is being made.

In September 2015, 193 countries signed up to seventeen Sustainable Development Goals, and eliminating child marriage is high on this agenda. In addition, in 2016 the Girls Not Brides Network was launched. This Dutch National Partnership will work to share knowledge and work on joint initiatives to prevent child marriages both nationally and internationally. It’s the 8th official national partnership of Girls Not Brides and was founded by thirteen Dutch organisations, including Simavi, which in turn work with dozens of partner organisations across Africa and Asia.

Click here to learn more about our work to end child marriage.

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