By Lusayo Singogo, MANA
First Lady, Madam Monica Chakwera on Friday urged all stakeholders to stand and protect the girl child by giving her equal opportunities to education for her to have a brighter future.
During the commemoration of the International Day of the Girl Child held at Mitondo Primary School in Lilongwe District the First Lady said it was disheartening that Malawi was ranked number seven on countries with high cases of child marriages.
She urged all Malawians and stakeholder organizations to be part of the solution to end child marriages and ensure that girls return to school.
“This is a sad development because as a country, we stand to lose a lot of things if we continue neglecting curbing child marriages, which have denied most of our girls the right to education.
“If we work collaboratively in protecting our girls and ensuring they have access to quality education and then will be able to drop down from number seven to bottom of the list.”
The First Lady said there are several challenges that hinder a girl from furthering her studies and these include poverty, selfish motives, cultural beliefs and hunger.
She advised parents and guardians to encourage their children to work hard in school despite the challenges encountered, saying doing so would help put Malawi on the world map.
“My personal commitment in fighting for a girl child comes from my childhood experience. I grew up in a very poor environment, where I used to walk 5kms to school.
“I could have easily dropped out of school but my mother supported me throughout the process and here I am today. This is the spirit that all parents need to have,” said.
Also present was Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Patricia Kaliati, who assured Malawians that her Ministry would ensure that it dissolves all child marriages by 2023.
She said government was working hard to ensure that all child marriages identified are dissolved and get the girls back to school.
“Our work is guided by the National Strategic Plan of 2018/2023, through which we are working towards ending child marriages and we hope to achieve this by 2023.
“We have dissolved over 4,000 marriages and have identified 40,000 early pregnancies and 22,000 early marriages,” Kaliati said.
Director of programmes at World Vision Malawi, Charles Chimombo said the organization strives to promote the well-being of the children and equality for girls.
“We are committed to protecting girls from early pregnancies and marriages before they come of age which is 18.
“We have put up advocacy and child protection as one of our strategic focus in all the areas we work in and we are working collaboratively with other partners to promote children’s well-being,” he said.
The International Day of the Girl Child is celebrated on October 11 since the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 66/170 in 2011 to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges they face around the globe.
Organized by World Vision International, the year 2020 was being commemorated globally under the theme ‘My voice, our equal future.’