PeaceWoman of the Month
PeaceWoman from Malawi
Inkosi Kachindamoto, senior chief of Dedza District in Central Malawi, was exasperated at the lack of progress over child marriage and tired of seeing girls as young as 12 carrying babies on their hips. Deciding to act, she annulled 330 customary marriages in her district and made 50 of her sub-chiefs sign an agreement to end child marriage.
Her next step was to make the leaders annul existing underage unions and send all the children involved back to school. “I don’t want youthful marriages,” she said. “They must go to school. No child should be found loitering at home or doing household chores during school time.”
Malawi has one of the highest incidents of child marriage in the world. The practice is closely linked to poverty where, in the rural areas, girls are married off to improve their families’ financial situations.
Child marriage and pregnancy remain the main cause of girls’ high dropout rates from school. Young girls who have left school have few opportunities to earn a living, which leaves them exposed to various forms of gender-based violence. “I talk to the parents. I tell them: if you educate your girls you will have everything in the future,” said Chief Kachindamoto.