Female chief in Malawi breaks up 850 child
marriages and sends girls back to school
Theresa Kachindamoto,
the senior chief in the Dedza District of Central Malawi, wields power over
close to 900,000 people… and she’s not afraid to use her authority to help the
women and girls in her district. In the past three years, she has annulled more
than 850 child marriages, sent hundreds of young women back to school to
continue their education, and made strides to abolish cleansing rituals that
require girls as young as seven to go to sexual initiation camps. With more
than half of Malawi’s girls married before the age of 18, according to a 2012
United Nations survey — and a consistently low ranking on the human development
index, Kachindamoto’s no-nonsense attitude and effective measures have made her
a vital ally in the fight for women’s and children’s rights.
Kachindamoto, who was
born in Dedza District, had been working as a secretary for 27 years in another
district when she was called to come home and serve as a chief. Upon her
return, she was dismayed at the sight of 12 year-old girls with babies and
young husbands and quickly began to take action.

Last year, Malawi
raised the legal age to marry to 18, yet parental consent continues to serve as
a loophole to allow younger girls to marry. Kachindamoto ordered 50 of her
sub-chiefs to sign an agreement ending child marriage in Dedza District. When a
few male chiefs continued to approve the marriages, Kachindamoto suspended them
until they annulled the unions. In addition to annulling the marriages (330 in
June of 2015 alone!), this fierce chief sent the children back to school, often
paying their school fees with her own money. She has also asked parliament to
raise the minimum age of marriage again to 21.

Source: Mccollybright.blogspot.com.ng

About The Author: Adeshile Adekolajo

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