The fight against child marriages can only be won if chiefs are involved, deputy minister of local government Halima Daudi has said.
Speaking in Blantyre yesterday when the Girls Empowerment Network (Genet) brought together Mulanje chiefs to strengthen their capacity in the fight, Daudi said chiefs should not be left behind.
“Chiefs live with people in the community and their voice is strong. That is why as government we work with chiefs to get to the people. As we fight child marriages and pregnancies, chiefs are vital,” said Daudi.
With funding from Plan International, Genet is running the 18+ Ending Child Marriage project in the areas of senior chiefs Chikumbu and Mthiramanja in Mulanje.
Genet programmes advisor Takondwa Kaliwo said the chiefs now understand their role in ending child marriages.
“We found that most girls end up with unwanted pregnancies since they are unaware of their physiology. They also don’t have the motivation to go further with their education. Then, there is the question of culture. That is where chiefs come in,” said Kaliwo.
Senior chief Chikumbu said she has terminated about 2 005 child marriages and 1 000 girls have been sent back to school.
“We are playing our part. The problem is that some of the children elope to other areas where chiefs allow child marriages,” she said.