Malawi Passes Legislation to Protect Girls from Early Marriage

Last week Malawi’s parliament unanimously voted to raise the minimum age for marriage to 18. This is tremendous news after a long advocacy effort! Currently, about 50% of girls in Malawi marry before the age of 18, often due to family, cultural, and financial pressure. This contributes to many girls not finishing school, leading to lifelong disadvantages for girls and their children.

This article from Reuters gives some good background: Malawi Bans child marriage, lifts minimum age to 18. The quote from Brussels Mughogho, Malawi country director of EveryChild, resonated with us, "This is a very important step that we've taken, but child marriage will never end with legal instruments alone."

When new laws to protect children are passed, community-based organizations (CBOs) are often at the frontlines of making the new law a reality. CBOs work with a range of stakeholders from traditional and religious leaders to local government, schools, families and children to incorporate and support child rights in culturally appropriate ways. That’s a lot of work, and often a slow process, but it results in real and lasting change for children.

The majority of the ten community-based organizations we fund in Malawi are working on issues of child rights and child protection. This new legislation should provide strong support to their work.

Learn more about Firelight Malawi partners on our grantee partners page

Congratulations to all those who played a role in passing this legislation. This is a tremendous step forward for girls’ rights in Malawi!


Want to read more about adolescent girls in Malawi?

Hear directly from Malawian girls about child marriage in I Will Marry When I Want from Girls Empowerment Network (GENET)

Our graphic novella tells Khadija’s story, a girl who returned to school, with the support of Firelight partner Nkhotakota AIDS Support Organization (NASO), after having a child at a young age

This blog tells the story about Girls Corners in Malawi where NASO partners with community organizations to support teen mothers to return to school and act as peer mentors. Girls Corners in Malawi: Helping Teen Moms Return to School.

Our new Girls Empowered Stories of Change project provides resources and stories from a 3-year initiative with adolescent girls in Malawi and Rwanda

Girls Not Brides is a global partnership of more than 400 civil society organisations from over 60 countries working to address child marriage: