Ending Forced Marriage in Malawi

Nearly half of all girls in Malawi are forced to marry before they turn 18. This activist is working to end the abuse — and has already terminated 3,000 forced marriages. Special thanks to UNICEF.

Theresa Kachindamoto, a woman bringing an end to forced marriage in Malawi

Nearly half of all girls in Malawi, a little girl could be forced to marry before age 18. Theresa Kachindamoto is fighting to end forced child marriage. Since she became chief of Dedza District, 16 years ago, she has terminated more than 3,000 forced marriages. Theresa Kachindamoto is the paramount chief, or Inkosi, of the Dedza District in the central region of Malawi. She has informal authority over more than 900,000 people. She is known for her forceful action in dissolving child marriages, inspiring the world and insisting on education for both girls and boys.

She made sure that there are no more child marriages in her area. The youngest child in her family, she was the one chosen to be chief. She then said, “Why? Why me? She is a woman, and, in the culture, they said a woman cannot be a chief. She asks so why now?” Then they said, “That’s why we choose you, because you are good with people. So, we want you to go home to be a chief to them.” In 2017, an amendment was adopted prohibiting anyone under 18 from getting married in Malawi. But the law isn’t always enforced based on data from The World Bank. In her country, over half of the population lives under the poverty line. Most parents marry off their daughters because they can’t afford to feed them, clothe them or educate them.

Some parents force their girls to be married because they have nothing at their homes. They think a girl in servitude can bring something at their home. That’s why she believes they do that to survive. She talks to the parents, together. She sits down and discusses about them forcing their child daughter to be married is bad for the childs mental health. She tries to convince them that if they educate their girl, they will have everything in the future.