3500 she has already finished

Frightening figures from Malawi: around 42 percent of all girls are married before their 18th birthday, even though the legal age for marriage is 18. Almost 46 percent of them leave school before the age of nine! During the corona pandemic, the pregnancy rate among teenagers rose sharply, currently more than 57 percent of 15 to 19-year-old girls are already mothers – and 63.5 percent will soon have their baby. There can hardly be any talk of gender equality, due to the poor financial situation, most girls have no proper schooling. When poor families have to make a choice, they tend to send the boys to school.

Many girls in Malawi already have children of their own

The Mother’s Group keeps an eye on the communities

In this environment, forced marriages flourish, which Theresa Kachindamoto defies. When the 60-year-old was still young herself, her father made sure that she was able to complete school and then study. He was then chief of the Dedza district in central Malawi. She took over his job in 2003 after many years of clerical work in a college. In her political function, she built up a network of informants called »The Mother’s Group«. The women who work there take an unobtrusive look at the 545 communities in the district and warn if a child marriage is in the offing or if one has been closed in secret.

The terminator herself ended 840 child marriages

With the help of this system, 3,500 girls were set free and were able to continue their education. The terminator herself annulled 840 marriages. In 2015, the brave woman managed to pass a law in the Malawian parliament that raises the minimum age for marriage to 18 years. But Kachindamoto would prefer to be 21 years old, so that the girls in the country have enough time for a solid education. She also wants college scholarships for bright young women who want to reach their full potential. At times, the committed politician even invests her own money so that girls from poor families receive a solid education.

In the long run, Kachindamoto wishes for an end to her “patch work.” She wants to completely change the behavior in the country and bring child marriage to a complete standstill. But that takes time and tireless work.


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