Save the Children Malawi country director Kim Koch has said high child marriage cases remain a key development challenge to Malawi.
Speaking on Wednesday at Thambala Community ground in Senior Chief Kanduku during the launch of ending child marriages campaign in Mwanza, she said there is need for a holistic approach among stakeholders to address the country’s high rate of children marriages.
“Despite laws against the vice, cases continue to rise, 40 percent at national level. Child marriage puts girls at risk of dropping out of school, domestic violence and life threatening health consequences of early pregnancy. And the vicious circle of poverty is strengthened as many females are not empowered,” Koch said.
Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare child affairs director McNight Kalanda said the ministry is empowering chiefs to terminate child marriages.
“One of the effective measures is to equip chiefs with knowledge of the adopted Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act. They should lead in enforcing the legal minimum age and terminating marriages,” he said.
Mwanza district commissioner Francis Matewere commended Save the Children for the programme, saying it will complement efforts to reduce child marriages in the district which are at 45 percent.
“We need such support to address poverty and limited access to quality education,” he said. The five-year Securing Children’s Rights through Education and Protection Programme is being implemented by Association of Progressive Women with funds from Norad through Save the Children Norway.