Traditional leaders are crucial in ending child marriages and other harmful traditional practices (HTPs) in Africa.
Senior Chief Chikumbu of Mulanje said this in Lusaka, Zambia during a girls’ summit.
Making her presentation on Changing Attitudes Towards HTPs, Chikumbu, who is also United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) ambassador, called for the inclusion of chiefs in the fight against unwanted cultural practices.
“Chiefs have unique networks which they use to reach out to subjects in their communities. They are custodians of culture and have great influence over the communities in the promotion and protection of human rights,” she said.
She told the gathering that Malawi is one of the countries in Africa that is doing well in protecting girls from early marriages and HTPs because of the participation of traditional leaders.
“Child marriages are heartbreaking considering the challenges the girls go through. I am, therefore, thankful to international organisations such as UNFPA and Unicef [United Nations Children’s Fund] for taking a leading role in ending HTPs,” said Chikumbu.
She called on donors and governments in Africa to work together to raise awareness on the plight of girls. n