Malawi: Constitution no longer allows child marriage

The Daily Times reported on the Constitutional change on 15 February.

Updated 26 April 2017: Malawi President Peter Mutharika has signed the constitutional amendment into law at the end of April 2017. The amendment marks a years-long process to outlaw child marriage in Malawi (source: VoA News). 

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 story relates to Goal A “Governments” of Girls Not Brides’ 2017-2020 strategy. The goal is about ensuring governments take action to address child marriage in their countries, with the active participation of civil society and other stakeholders. Find out more.