Malawi has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 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 in order to improve a family’s financial status. In the northern part of Malawi, kupimbira, or giving a young daughter in marriage as repayment for a debt, is practiced.
Conflicting legislation makes the minimum age of marriage ambiguous in Malawi. Early in 2015, the parliament adopted the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Bill, which raised the minimum age of marriage from 16 to 18. However, Section 22 of the Constitution stipulates that young people between the ages of 15 and 18 may marry upon parental consent.
*Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2013)
*According to stats from UNICEF state of the children