Coordination of the national response on ending child Marriages
The country’s child marriage and adolescent birth rates are among the highest in the world. Over 10 per cent of girls are married by the age of 15 and a full 50 per cent by the age of 18, with 35 per cent of girls giving birth by the age of 18. These trends are even more pronounced in rural areas, with early marriage and adolescent fertility occurring at much higher rates, and highly correlated with low levels of education and wealth. The rate of child marriage in Malawi is currently at 42 percent which is higher than the average of Southern Africa Region.
Dynamics of age and gender inequality make it more difficult for younger women to negotiate safe sex. Among girls 15-19 years old in Malawi, 8 per cent are married or in union to a man who is 10 or more years older. The Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act was passed in Malawi in 2015, raising the age of marriage to 18 years old, however, lack of birth registration and a long tradition of child marriage may make this difficult to enforce.
Currently the department in collaboration with partners is implementing a campaign to end child marriage. Other strategies being implemented include the development of guidelines for formulating by-laws on ending child marriage. The department intends to finish and start dissemination of the guidelines by January 2019. The guidelines will help district councils and chiefs in the formulation of by-laws to end child marriage.