A local non-governmental organization – Point of Progress (PoP) – has embarked on an ambitious project aimed at eliminating child marriages in Malawi.
The organization has since rolled out a project dubbed ‘Girls Get Equal’ with financial support from Plan International Malawi.
Speaking on the sidelines of a panel discussion at Chiwamba Trading Centre in the area of Traditional Authority Chimutu in Lilongwe, PoP project officer, Henderson Phiri, said their interventions aim to contribute to national efforts to tackle child marriages and promote equality among men and women.
“The function of PoP in GGE project is to foster a two-prolonged approach to changing discriminatory norms by engaging with gatekeepers and society in general as well as to empower children, adolescents and the youths (CAYs) to be agents of changes towards gender equality and child rights,” said Phiri.
He said his organization observed some gaps in the fight against child marriages. Phiri highlighted lack of proper coordination among stakeholders such as the police, chiefs and Child Protection Committees (CPCs) as one of the challenges facing the fight.
“The project was implemented in 2020 and is expected to run up to 2024, which means the project is for four years. Mostly we do face resistance to change by community influences, particularly in issues to do with transforming cultural practices that are fueling child marriages, for instance I can sight the example of ‘Gule Wamkulu’, we have been facing a lot of problems in terms of changing there syllabuses that they should adhere to school calendars and the like,” he narrated.
Group Village Headman Nsambila 1 said the project has helped reduce cases of early marriages in his area.
The project targets 21, 760 CAYs as direct beneficiaries in Mulanje, Phalombe, and Lilongwe.
So far, 17, 660 children have benefited from the project whereby 995 children have been returned to school, with 361 of them receiving school materials and 31 girls receiving seed supplies for income-generating activities in order for them to remain in school. Above all 349 children have been withdrawn from child marriages.