Young girls from Karonga District but studying in different schools in the country have teamed up with the Commonwealth Secretariat to create a forum to deal with early and forced marriages.
The girls formed the national network called Malawi Commonwealth Girls Alliance (Macoga) on Friday to raise awareness in the country’s schools to the dangers of early marriages.
The development comes a few days after Commonwealth Secretariat head of human rights Karen Mckenzie briefed chiefs and later girls in Karonga on dangers of early marriages.
Chairperson of the alliance, Rose Sakala, observed that scores of young girls, especially in rural area, are at risk of getting married before completing secondary school education.
Sakala, a third year student at Bunda College of the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Luanar), said the girls are forcibly asked by the community to leave school to get married, hence the need for a network that wwould empower the girl child to say ‘no’ to such forced marriages.
The network seeks to empower girls to say ‘no’ to early and forced marriages by, among other things, conducting career talks and awareness meetings in schools nationwide, according to Sakala.
Five task force members currently studying in Northern, Central and Southern regions of the country have been tasked to fully establish the alliance in their regions.
In her remarks, Mckenzie observed that in Africa, early and forced marriages continue to impede girls’ enjoyment of their right to education. She, therefore, assured the girls’ network of the Commonwealth support.
Commenting on the development, Paramount Chief Kyungu asked parents to encourage their girl children to continue with their education, saying even chiefs are concerned that young girls in the country are being denied their right to better education due to early and forced marriages.
National Human Rights Institutions in Commonwealth countries agreed at a meeting held in Kigali in Rwanda in May this year to work in strong collaboration to address early and forced marriages in their respective countries.—Mana