The country with one of the highest rates of child marriages has taken a major step to end the practice by adopting a constitutional amendment that raises the minimum age of marriage from 15 to 18 years-old.
In a major win for young girls all across the continent, on 14 February the Malawi Parliament took a landmark decision towards advancing gender equality by banning child marriage in the country. Unanimously the Parliament of Malawi adopted a constitutional amendment that raises the minimum age of marriage from 15 to 18 years, for both girls and boys. The amendment aligns the Constitution with the 2015 Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act enacted by the Parliament.
Each year around 15 million girls will be married before they turn 18. The Hunger Project and 0ur partners have been a strong advocate for an end to child marriage.
According to the UN, half of the girls in Malawi are often married before the age of 18 and teen pregnancies contributing to 20-30 per cent of maternal deaths in the country. The practice of child marriage locks girls into a cycle of poverty, with many forced to leave education after they marry, rendering girls more vulnerable to violence.
The new reform aligns the Constitution with Malawi’s international and regional obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and others, including the Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality.