14 February was a historic day for girls in Malawi. Parliament voted to amend the Constitution to make marriage before the age of 18 illegal, removing a provision that allowed children to marry at 15 with parental consent.
Malawi has the 11th highest child marriage rates in the world, with nearly 1 in 2 girls married before 18, according to UNICEF.
In February 2015, Malawi adopted the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act which set the minimum age of marriage at 18 for boys and girls. However, without amending the Constitution, the new law created a loophole that could be used to allow child marriages.
The laws in the country are now harmonised, said Lusungu Kalanga, a Malawian activist. “It was important to amend the constitution as it is the supreme law of the land”. She added: “It is the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for the girls of Malawi!”
This aricle was published on Girls Not Brides' website on February 15, 2017.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out the rights that must be realized for children to develop their full potential, free from hunger and want, neglect and abuse. It reflects a new vision of the child. Children are neither the property of their parents nor are they helpless objects of charity. They are human beings and are the subject of their own rights. The Convention offers a vision of the child as an individual and as a member of a family and community, with rights and responsibilities appropriate to his or her age and stage of development. By recognizing children's rights in this way, the Convention firmly sets the focus on the whole child.