Child marriage around the world:

Malawi

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 15
9%
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 18
46%
International Ranking*

11

* References

* 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.

Photo credit: DFID

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 15
9%
UNICEF 2016 % Married by 18
46%
International Ranking*

11

* References

* 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 [1].

Drivers

A key challenge to ending 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 [2].

Legal age of marriage

In February 2017, Parliament amended the Constitution and raised the age of marriage from 15 (with parental consent) to 18 years old for boys and girls. The President signed the constitutional amendment into law at the end of April 2017.

The move brings the Constitution in line with the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Bill adopted in February 2015, which set the minimum age of marriage at 18. [3]

Resolving legal inconsistencies is an important step towards protecting girls from child marriage.

Sources

[1] UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2016

[2] Human Rights Watch, “I’ve never experienced happiness”: Child marriage in Malawi, 2014

[3] Girls Not Brides, Malawi: Constitution no longer allows child marriage, 15 February 2017.