Malawi has one of the highest rates of child marriages globally – data from UNICEF places the prevalence of this harmful practice in Malawi at the 12th highest in the world. This practice is fuelled largely by interlinked effects of poverty, lack of opportunities for empowerment through education and income generation, and especially customs and traditions that justify it, among other factors.
However, child marriage is a grave violation of children’s rights, putting girls at greater risk of dropping out of school, domestic violence and potentially life-threatening health consequences of early pregnancy.
At the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 this week, world leaders put forward commitments to improve the wellbeing of women and girls. One of the key commitments is ending gender-based violence and harmful practices. In Malawi, Senior Chief Inkosi Kachindamoto of Dedza District in Central Malawi has been working to prevent and break the marriage of girls to older men, as well as the practice of men having sex with girls, Kupimbira, as it’s otherwise known in Malawi.
We speak to her about her mission, where it began, and her vision for Malawi, and Africa to be free of such harmful practices against women and girls.