Photo credit: DFID
Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 15
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 18
* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old.
* According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2016.
Malawi has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with approximately 1 in 2 girls married by the age of 18.
A key challenge to eradicating child marriage in Malawi is entrenched attitudes that accept the practice. Child marriage is also closely linked to poverty, as often in rural areas girls will be married off very young to improve a family’s financial status. In northern Malawi, kupimbira, or giving a young daughter in marriage as repayment for a debt, is practiced.
Legal age of marriage
Conflicting legislation makes the minimum age of marriage ambiguous in Malawi. In February 2015, and following advocacy efforts by civil society, the parliament adopted the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Bill, raising the minimum age of marriage to 18.
However, the new provisions cannot overwrite the Constitution, which stipulates that girls and boys ages 15 to 18 may marry with parental consent. The constitution also does not specifically prohibit the marriage of children under 15, but merely directs the government to “discourage” them.
Members In Malawi
- African Network for Protection and Prevention of Child abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) Malawi
- Amref Health Africa
- Center for Youth Development and Transformation
- Centre for Girls and Interaction (CEGI)
- Centre for Social Concern and Development (CESOCODE)
- Development Initiative Network
- Family Planning Association of Malawi
- Foundation for Children’s Rights
- Foundation for Youth Empowerment
- Girl Rising Malawi
- Girls Empowerment Network (GENET Malawi)
- God Cares Orphan Organisation
- Holy Heart Centre for Abused Women And Children
- Journalists Association against AIDS (JournAIDS)
- Luchenza Youth Organisation
- Organisation of African Youth
- People Serving Girls at Risk
- Plan International
- Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI)
- Seventeen Active Youth Organization (SAYO)
- Sustainable Rural Community Development Organisation
- Teams Advancing Women in Agriculture (TAWINA)
- Urunji Child Care Trust
- VSO International
- Women In Development (WID)
- Youth Arm Organisation
- Youth Coalition for the Consolidation of Democracy (YCD)
- Youth Net and Counselling (YONECO)
- Human Rights Watch, “I’ve never experienced happiness”: Child marriage in Malawi, 2014
- UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2016