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Malawi

Taux de mariages d'enfants
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 15 ans
9%
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 18 ans
42%
Classement international*

12

* Références

Fait référence au pourcentage de femmes âgées de 20 à 24 ans qui ont été mariées ou en concubinage avant le l’âge de 15 ou 18 ans.

Photo credit: DFID

Taux de mariages d'enfants
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 15 ans
9%
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 18 ans
42%
Classement international*

12

* Références

Fait référence au pourcentage de femmes âgées de 20 à 24 ans qui ont été mariées ou en concubinage avant le l’âge de 15 ou 18 ans.

What's the child marriage rate? How big of an issue is child marriage?

In Malawi, 42% of girls are married before the age of 18 and almost one in 10 are married before their 15th birthday.

According to UNICEF, Malawi has the 12th highest prevalence rate of child marriage in the world.

Regional variations indicate that women in the central region marry at a slightly older age than those in the Southern and Northern regions.

A 2017 study shows that ending child marriage in Malawi could generate USD167 million in earnings and productivity.

Are there country-specific drivers of child marriage in this country?

Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that girls are somehow inferior to boys. In Malawi, child marriage is also driven by:

  • Poverty: Half of the population in Malawi live below the national poverty line. Some poorer families marry off their daughters to reduce their perceived financial burden or to offer them a better life. Some girls are exchanged during Kupimbira – a form of debt repayment – in the northern part of the country. Human Rights Watch reports that some parents force their daughters to have sex with men in order to receive money or food.
  • Limited awareness: Many girls in Malawi do not know their rights under the law or where to look for assistance when faced with child marriage. A 2017 study shows that only 8% of girls in Malawi are able to list at least three harmful effects of child marriage.
  • Lack of opportunities: In a 2017 study, 77% of respondents said that child marriage happens in Malawi because of a lack of education or job opportunities for girls.
  • Boarding schools: A 2015 report highlights that schools with a lack of boarding facilities force some girls to self-board in nearby houses, where they sometimes end up marrying men in exchange for money.
  • Pre-marital sex: In a 2017 study, 87% of respondents said that child marriage happens because of pregnancy and 93% agreed that unmarried girls who get pregnant are “naughty”. Some girls are married off to avoid bringing dishonour to their families. One traditional leader was quoted as saying that unmarried pregnant girls are labelled as “disabled”.
  • Traditional customs: Among ethnic groups in northern Malawi, lobola – bride price – signifies the creation of an alliance between families, and representatives from both sides negotiate the terms of a marriage through a mediator. Human Rights Watch reports that some girls are thrown out of their homes if they refuse to marry.

What has this country committed to?

Malawi has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Malawi co-sponsored the 2017 Human Rights Council resolution recognising the need to address child, early and forced marriage in humanitarian contexts.

Malawi co-sponsored the 2013 UN General Assembly resolution on child, early and forced marriage, and signed a joint statement at the 2014 Human Rights Council calling for a resolution on child marriage.

Malawi acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1987, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

In 1999 Malawi ratified the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, including Article 21 regarding the prohibition of child marriage.

In 2005 Malawi ratified the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, including Article 6 which sets the minimum age for marriage as 18.

Malawi is one of 20 countries which has committed to ending child marriage by the end of 2020 under the Ministerial Commitment on comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and young people in Eastern and Southern Africa.

During its 2015 Universal Periodic Review, Malawi supported recommendations to ensure successful implementation of strategies and legal reforms to end child marriage.

At the Girl Summit in July 2014, the government signed a charter committing to end child marriage by 2020.

What is the government doing to address this at the national level?

In March 2018, First Lady Gertrude Mutharika urged all Malawians to be part of the solution to end child marriage.

The government has developed a draft National Children’s Policy which includes a section on addressing child marriage. As of 2018, the Adolescent Girls and Young Women strategy is in the final stages of development.

The National Plan of Action to Combat Gender-Based Violence in Malawi 2014-2020 includes several targets related to child marriage, including producing and disseminating local language awareness-raising materials and supporting traditional leaders to end child marriage.

Plan International and Malawian young people have been working with a taskforce of government bodies, advocates, traditional authorities, religious leaders and teachers calling for Malawi’s constitution to be reformed. In 2016, young campaigners presented the First Lady of Malawi with a petition signed by people from over 30 countries.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under the Constitution, the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years with no exceptions.

Source

African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, [website], 2018, (accessed February 2018)

African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, [website], 2018, (accessed February 2018)

All Africa, Malawi: End Child Marriages, First Lady Urges All Malawi Citizens, [website], 2018, (accessed April 2018)

Girl Summit 2014, The Girl Summit Charter on Ending FGM and Child, Early and Forced Marriage, [website], 2015, (accessed February 2018)

Government of Malawi, National Plan of Action to Combat Gender-Based Violence in Malawi 2014 – 2020, 2014, (accessed March 2018)

Human Rights Watch, I’ve Never Experienced Happiness”: Child Marriage in Malawi, 2014, (accessed March 2018)

International Center for Research on Women, ENGAGE: Enabling Girls to Advance Gender Equity, 2017, (accessed March 2018)

Ministerial Commitment on comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and young people in Eastern and Southern African, [website], 2014, (accessed February 2018)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Joint statement on child, early and forced marriage, HRC 27, Agenda Item 3, [website], 2014, (accessed April 2018)

National Statistical Office of Malawi, Malawi MDG Endline Survey 2014, 2015, (accessed March 2018)

National Statistical Office of Malawi and ICF, Malawi Demographic and Health Survey 2015-16, 2017, (accessed April 2018)

Plan International, Malawi Changes Law to End Child Marriage, [website], 2017 (accessed March 2018)

Population Council, More Than Brides Alliance: Baseline Report, Malawi, 2017, (accessed March 2018)

UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Malawi, 2015, p.18, (accessed March 2018)

United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, (accessed February 2018)

Women and Law in Southern Africa Research, Education Trust Malawi, Faculty of Law, Chancellor College, University of Malawi for Malawi CSOs, JOINT CEDAW MALAWI CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS SHADOW REPORT 2015, 2015, (accessed March 2018)

World Bank, Malawi, [website], 2018, https://data.worldbank.org/country/malawi (accessed March 2018)

World Bank and International Center for Research on Women, Economic Impacts of Child Marriage: Global Synthesis Report, 2017, (accessed March 2018)

Fait référence au pourcentage de femmes âgées de 20 à 24 ans qui ont été mariées ou en concubinage avant le l’âge de 15 ou 18 ans.

Membres Malawi