Girls pioneer termination of child marriages in Nkhata Bay
By Easter Khunga
Mana, October 15, Mzuzu: Girls Empowerment Network (Gnet), a non-governmental organisation based in Nkhata Bay District, has empowered about 2000 girls to lead the fight against marriages involving their peers.
Speaking on the sidelines of International Day of the Girl Child commemorations Wednesday in Mzuzu, Gnet Executive Director, Faith Phiri said the organisation has trained 2000 girls to spearhead prevention of child marriages and promotion of financial skills among young women.
“Since we started our five year project, ‘Marriage No Child Play’ in Nkhata Bay, 2000 girls have received training on how to stay away from child marriages and to be strong financially.
‘’We are happy that these girl leaders have managed to go round the communities and educate their peers on the disadvantages of early marriages and the importance of staying in school to make a better future,” Phiri said.
She said the girl leaders have helped reduce child marriages in the district a development she described as remarkable.
Nkhata Bay district youth network chair, Catherine Banda said girl molestation is among challenges that have led to unwanted pregnancies and destruction of girls’ future.
“With the coming of this project so many girls have known their rights and right places to report issues of harassment,” said Banda.
Minister of Gender, Community Development and Social WelfarePatricia Kaliati said her ministry has put in place some key strategies including mother groups and cash transfer programs that will be assisting girls to stay away from child marriages.
Kaliati added that her ministry is rebuilding girls’ child future through termination of child marriages banking its hope in the ministry of education’s readmission policy.
“We are working very tirelessly to end these child marriages in order to create a brighter future for these children.
“With the coming in of cash transfer program every child will be protected and no child will be left loitering the streets, those children who are already married will be sent back to school,” she said.
The minister thanked Gnet for the initiative to end child marriages and promised to work hand in hand with the organisation to achieve this goal.
During the function the minister and chiefs were awarded certificates of recognition for their role in promotion of rights of girl child.
International Day of the Girl Child falls on October 11, and this year’s theme is ‘My Voice, Our Equal Future’.