Female members of the Malawi Parliament have rallied behind World Vision’s efforts to end Child Marriage by leading motivation talks in the organisation’s Chigodi impact area.
In an event held at Chigodi Community Day Secondary School in Lilongwe, parliamentarians including the Speaker of the National Assembly, Catherine Gotani Hara, challenged girls to rise above their fears while also pushing teachers to do their best to give all children a chance.
Attired in different school uniforms, reminiscent of their schooling days, the 28 female Members of Parliament (MPs) told children stories of how they overcame adversity to attain their goals.
In their coordinated voice, the MPs pleaded with all children, especially girls, to remain firm on education and disregard cultural practices that encourage early marriage.
Honourable Chijere Chirwa, Parliamentarian for Zomba-Chingale where World Vision has implemented different interventions before, challenged learners to take advantage of the support they receive from different players including World Vision to further their education. She further urged the learners to dream beyond their villages.
“Wherever you are, the world is big. I come from a typical village in Chingale, Zomba, very far from the city. But because of education, I acquired the skills and confidence to lead and I am a parliamentarian; a job that is taking me to places I never thought would be possible. So dream”, she said.
Gotani Hara, who is Malawi’s first ever female Speaker of Parliament said her house valued the role-modelling opportunity knowing fully well the challenges that children in remote places face when making decisions; most of which decide their future.
“Lack of parents, being born from poverty-stricken families or lack of school fees should not be an excuse to fail to stay in school”, said Hara who further challenged teachers to dig deep in their capacity to support children and for parents to collaborate with education authorities.
She further added: “I want to encourage teachers to be dedicated by taking your service seriously. We know the challenges you pass through. And that is why in parliament, most of us speak about your plight. But before we get things better, let us serve as best as we can so these children can grow into responsible citizens.”
World Vision’s Advocacy and Child Protection Manager, Lizzie Lombe, hailed the female MPs for the career guidance and motivation talks, which she believes have changed a lot of minds.
“Worse still, COVID-19 now threatens the future of the Malawian child. About 13,000 cases of child marriage and over 40,000 cases of teen pregnancies across Malawi have been recorded since COVID-19 hit the country. So this visit is very important in encouraging children to stay focused on education”, noted Lombe.
Currently, World Vision is running the “It Takes Malawi to End Child Marriage” campaign in an effort to reduce child marriage by 20%.
In Malawi, It is believed that about 42% of girls get married before age 18, and that 29% of girls become teen mothers, while another 20% of girls are sexually violated/molested before they get to age 18.
During the event, the parliamentarians donated 1,200 notebooks, 860 lead pencils and 300 ball point pens to Chigodi CDSS and other surrounding Primary schools.
World Vision is also implementing relief and development interventions in all 28 districts of the country, impacting a total of 5 million children through education, food security, health and nutrition and water and sanitation interventions.