How many girls do you think get married before they turn 18 years old? Tragically, the answer is 15 million girls every year; 41,000 girls every day; 28 girls every minute; that is, 1 girl every 2 seconds.
Malawi exemplifies this sad reality. The "Warm Heart of Africa”, it is a country known for its friendly population and beautiful landscapes, yet also for its extreme poverty and high rates of child marriage. 1 in every 2 girls in Malawi is married before her 18th birthday, which means that: 1 in every 2 girls has a much lower chance of finishing her education; 1 in every 2 girls is likely to become a mother while she is still a child herself; and 1 in every 2 girls sees her future and dreams shattered.
Child marriage finds its roots in tradition and poverty. It has devastating consequences on a girl's mental and physical health; it can lead to depression or suicide and it increases the risks of HIV/AIDS and maternal mortality. It also increases school drop-outs and in turn removes opportunities for girls and women to lift themselves and those around them out of poverty. By depriving society of educated and active citizens, child marriage is slowing down development in the countries where it is prevalent.
The solutions we're proposing
“When we know that educating a girl can change the world, why wait?”
(Freida Pinto, Indian actress and girls’ rights activist)
W4’s field partner in Malawi, ANPPCAN, tackles child marriage by educating communities about the dangers of the practice and encouraging them to keep their girls in school to gain an education. Their work covers other important issues such as children’s rights, education and sexual and reproductive health.
Their new project, Thinking Future - Keeping Girls in School, creates and disseminates information on these issues and organizes training sessions in schools for girls who are most at risk of dropping out to be married. Parents, teachers and traditional leaders are also encouraged to participate in this training. The involvement of the community is crucial in combating the ingrained practice of child marriage and encouraging changes in attitudes.
The next step in the project is the creation of clubs in schools to provide information and support to even more at-risk girls. Each club will be supervised by two teachers equipped with training and resources to educate the girls and those around them about the dangers of child marriage and the importance of staying in school.
THE IMPACT OF GIVING
Your donation will allow our field partner to create more crucial training materials to be distributed to the teams in schools. Your support will have an impact on 15 schools, with 900 notebooks and 900 pens, 75 learning manuals and 15 training material packs (pictures, cards, and boards).
These necessary materials will enable schools to organize their own training sessions to reach even more at-risk girls. Your support therefore helps to ensure that our work and its impact is sustainable by creating more local agents of positive change.
You can have a huge impact on the lives and futures of young, bright Malawian girls. Let us join hands with them to help them stay in school, decide their own futures, and improve the prospects of their country.