Blantyre 26th October 2018: Many countries in the Sub Saharan Africa have high rates of child marriage. Malawi has the twelfth highest child marriage rate in the world with nearly 1 in 2 girls married before the age of 18.
This is despite existence of laws that prohibit child marriage and set minimum marriage ages, the situation persists in part because of the strong traditional and religious practices which make it difficult to enforce the laws. Research has shown that tradition and religion remain the strongest of all the major causes of child marriage.
Other reasons established for the perpetuation of child marriage include poverty, gender discrimination, limited education, lack of economic options, insecurity in the face of conflict, child abduction and forced marriage in conflict situations.
UN Women’s Africa Strategic Plan has prioritized protecting the health and well-being of women and girls of Africa by supporting interventions that end Harmful Social Practices, particularly child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation.
UN Women has made a strategic choice of placing the leadership and engagement of traditional authorities central to addressing the cultural norms and practices that promote child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation.
To address this challenge UN Women is engaging traditional and cultural institutions through a series of regional consultations. The first meeting was held in Nairobi and brought together over 30 Traditional Leaders from 17 countries in Africa.
As a result, a regional consultation aimed at galvanizing and amplifying the efforts and strategies implemented by Traditional Leaders to end child marriage, FGM/C and other harmful practices in East and Southern Africa will be held in Blantyre, Malawi from 30th October to 2nd November 2018.
This consultative meeting will bring together traditional and religious leaders from all over Africa and will take place at the Sunbird Mount Soche Hotel, Blantyre.