The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare and the UN agencies in collaboration with the Civil Society Organizations wish to inform the general public that Malawi will join the international community to commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child. The United Nations declared 11th October as the International Day of the Girl Child and 2012 is the first year of its commemoration. The day is important as it will raise awareness on various issues affecting the girl child in Malawi. The aim of the commemoration is to draw attention to the issues affecting the girl child and young women and to call upon individuals, families, communities and the nation to take action and address the challenges faced by the girl child.
The international theme for the 2012 International Day of the Girl Child is “My Life, My Right, End Child Marriages.” The Government of Malawi in collaboration with the Civil Society Organisations and the United Nations family have joined forces to address the problem of child marriages, which is a fundamental violation of the human rights and has a negative impact on the life of the girl child. Child marriage denies the girl of her childhood, disrupts her education, limits her opportunities, increases her risk of violence and abuse, and jeopardizes her health. In Malawi, statistics show that 25% of girls aged between 15 – 19 years are married; half of all women aged 15-39 years marry before the age of 18 compared to 2% of boys who marry before the age of 19.
Ending child marriage will protect the girls’ rights; reduce their vulnerability to violence, early pregnancy, HIV infection, maternal death, disability and obstetric fistula. Adolescent girls account for 20% of Malawi’s maternal mortality rate which is estimated at 675 deaths per 100,000 live births. Ending child marriage will enable the girl child to remain and complete school; give her an opportunity to build a foundation for a better life for herself and family; take part in the decision making process; and participate in the development agenda.
The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare in collaboration with the Civil Society Organisations and the United Nations family has organized a number of activities at the national and district levels to raise awareness on the dangers of child marriages, advocate for the review of the age of marriage and lobby for the passing of the Marriage Act.
The main event will be a live broadcast of the national public debate which will be aired on MBC Television and Zodiak Radio Station on Thursday 11th October, 2012 at the Presidential Hotel in Lilongwe from 18:00hrs. The function will be presided over by the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Welfare Hon. Anitta Kalinde, MP. Follow up activities will include symposia for traditional leaders, technocrats, policy makers and the influential sectors of the society; and community based debates and discussions in the districts.
The Ministry is therefore calling upon all Malawians to join the commemoration of the International Day of the Girl Child and participate in the various activities in their respective communities.
Dr. Mary Shawa
SECRETARY FOR GENDER, CHILDREN AND SOCIAL WELFARE