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Small, stable and densely populated, Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. Here, over half of the population lives below the poverty line.1

CAMFED Malawi was launched in 2009, and by 2020 was working in 17 districts. In the rural communities CAMFED serves, the majority of people work in the agricultural sector, which is vulnerable to volatile economic growth and adverse weather conditions. In recent years the country has seen economic growth, but significant challenges remain. Over 9% of the adult population is living with HIV2, and 20% of Malawian households — many headed by women and girls — are looking after orphans and vulnerable children (OVC).3 

Malawi suffers from an acute lack of secondary schools, meaning children —  especially in rural areas —  often have to travel long distances to school. This makes them extremely vulnerable to exploitation and school drop out. In addition, there is a critical lack of qualified teachers, with a pupil: teacher ratio of 72:1 at secondary level.4  With very few female teachers, those girls able to get to school lack the role models to help encourage them to stay.  

Rose Alexander, CAMFED Association member in Malawi, explains the negative impacts of child marriage in her community.

 

In Malawi 42% of girls are married before the age of 185...

Malawi has the 12th highest child marriage prevalence rate in the world6, although marriage below the age of 18 is now illegal.  The country has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.7

CAMFED Malawi provided input into the development of the National Strategy on Ending Child Marriages, and worked closely with the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare to convene a national meeting to develop a plan of implementation. 

"In addition to the historical acute poverty-related challenges in Malawi, recently we are facing a lack of foreign currency, devaluation, high inflation and increasing poverty levels for the rural's poorest. In this context more and more children especially girls are dropping out of school to marry and eke out a living. Limited secondary school places exercabate the situation as not every child who passes their primary school exams is guaranteed a secondary school place.

We bring everyone who has anything to do with children together to make education and protection of children possible and to support the children to stay in school. Our exceptional involvement of traditional authorities is trendsetting and we now have educational champions among these leaders. In 2013, the first young women we supported graduated from secondary school: I see this generation of girls leading a community of champions prepared to fight, defend and advance their children's right to education!"

Harold Kuombola, National Director, CAMFED Malawi

We also supported the formation of a national by-laws framework to prevent child marriage, and were invited by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to join a task force on the National Girls’ Education Strategy.

Importantly, the young women leaders in the CAMFED Association of graduates are now at the forefront of tackling child marriage in their communities, working with schools, parents, education authorities, traditional leaders, social workers and the police to catalyze action for vulnerable girls.

  • 47,212

    Students supported with secondary scholarships

    CAMFED provides holistic and targeted support for girls to go to secondary school, covering needs that might include school or exam fees, uniforms, sanitary wear, books, pens, bikes, boarding fees or disability aids.

  • 123,106

    Students supported to go to primary school

    CAMFED's Safety Net Fund for partner primary schools provides essential items for children at primary school to prevent them from dropping out of school.

  • 1,201

    Partner Schools

    CAMFED works in genuine partnership with government schools to help improve the learning environment for all students. Sharing information on school performance and working with the community to implement change is crucial to success.

  • 39,577

    Community Champions

    CAMFED's program works because of the commitment of local community champions and activists. These volunteers include everyone from traditional leaders to government education officials, teachers, parents, and former students.

  • 21,673

    CAMFED Association

    Members of the CAMFED Association - the largest network of its kind in Africa - offer peer support, mentoring, and training and leadership opportunities, and spearhead our programs.

  • 311,590

    Students supported by community initiatives

    CAMFED Association members partner with their communities to support more vulnerable children to go to primary and secondary school, by providing school meals, paying school fees, buying supplies, or providing a home to orphans, for example.

References

1. International Monetary Fund (2017), IMF Country report no. 17/184, Malawi: Economic Development Document, p.2, https://www.imf.org/en/Publications, (accessed 07 May 2020)

2. UNAIDS (2018), https://www.unaids.org/en/regionscountries/countries/malawi, (accessed 07 May 2020)

3. USAID (2016), Malawi orphans and Vulnerable Children Fact Sheet, https://www.usaid.gov/malawi/fact-sheets/malawi-orphans-and-vulnerable-children-fact-sheet, (accessed 07 May 2020)

4. UNESCO Institute of Statistics (2018) Malawi, Education and Literacy Annex, http://uis.unesco.org/en/country/mw?theme=education-and-literacy, (accessed 11 May 2020)

5.  UNICEF Child Marriage Database (2020), https://data.unicef.org/topic/child-protection/child-marriage/, (accessed 07 May 2020)

6. UNICEF Child Marriage Database (2020), https://data.unicef.org/topic/child-protection/child-marriage/, (accessed 07 May 2020)

7. Girls Not Brides, https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/child-marriage/malawi/#stats-references (accessed 07 May 2020)

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