Female Malawian chief uses her position to save girls from child marriage! #Heroine

Theresa Kachindamoto Theresa Kachindamoto is the senior chief of her district in Central Malawi , which makes her the traditional lea...

Theresa Kachindamoto

Theresa Kachindamoto is the senior chief of her district in Central Malawi, which makes her the traditional leader of some 900,000 people. It’s rare for a woman to have a job like that in her country—but what’s even rarer is how Kachindamoto has chosen to use her power: In the past three years she’s broken up more than 850 marriages, upending Malawi’s tradition of child marriage.

Malawi has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world. In 2012 half of all girls were married by age 18, according to the U.N.. And since marriage and pregnancy are two of the main reasons girls drop out of school, only 45 percent of girls there are educated beyond the 8th grade. Households often have to choose between educating girl children and marrying them off—and education often loses out. A report from UNICEF found that nearly two thirds of women in Malawi with no formal education were child brides; only 5 percent of women who went to secondary school were married as children.
Theresa Kachindamoto

Chief Kachindamoto was sick of seeing girls as young as 12 with babies and teenaged husbands, married off by poor families desperate for dowry money. So she started talking to parents, telling them that keeping their daughters unmarried and in school would make life better for everyone. “I talk to the parents. I tell them: if you educate your girls you will have everything in the future,” she told U.N. Women.

That didn’t work—at least not fast enough for Kachindamoto’s liking. But she didn’t give up. Instead, she changed the law.

Kachindamoto got 50 subchiefs to sign an agreement barring early marriage and annulling existing marriages between children younger than 18. In June alone, she annulled 330 marriages. When she heard that children were still getting married in some places, she fired the four male chiefs in those areas. "I told them: Whether you like it or not, I want these marriages to be terminated." she told Al Jazeera.

She’s endured pushback from villagers, even death threats, but Kachindamoto told Al Jazeera she doesn’t mind as long as she’s helping Malawi’s children stay in school. "If they are educated, they can be and have whatever they want," she said.

Source: www.glamour.com

(Disclaimer: We take no credit for the photos)

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BETA GIRLS: Female Malawian chief uses her position to save girls from child marriage! #Heroine
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