JournAIDS pledge to embrace Marriage Bill in Malawi
(MENAFN- The Maravi Post)
Journalist Association Against AIDS (JournAIDS) of Malawi says it welcomes the policy move to combatting early marriages and empowering girls and women for equal opportunities for them in the schools and workplace.
The board says it realize the need for Malawi to have a progressive policy legal framework to address teenage pregnancies child marriages and promote women's and child health to eradicate poverty.
Making the sentiments in its 2016-2018 advocacy strategy for combating early marriages Programs Manager for JournAIDS Digani Mithi observe that this can be done by increasing the unified participation by Civil Society Organization in tackling early marriages and also enforcing government to reviewing Marriage Divorce and Family Relations Act.
Said Mithi: 'For children and women this is a welcome policy direction that the CSOs and Malawi government continues to proactively advocate for. Although legislator enacted into law the Marriage Divorce and Family Relations Act which puts the marriage age at 18 stakeholders and actors in the health sector still argue that 18 years is not an appropriate age for marriage and want the age to be raised to 21 years'.
'It is assumed that a girl is matured enough has completed secondary school education and can make independent decisions regarding sexuality. Nevertheless increasing the ratio of girl child at school and parent's participation in decision making provide better and improved access to education health care and basic social services in Malawi'
Gender disparities on the basis of girl right for school is not only evident in early marriages but also during recruitment with women facing higher risk of being unemployed than male. Therefore it is evident that many girls in the country drop out of school much early than boys but that the country has failed to put checks and balances to ensure that the trend stops.
One of the participants Chimwemwe Padatha concurred with Mithi that the reflection of the failure of Malawi's education system to address issues affecting girl's hindrance to further education is a human right issue.
He also adds that cultural stereotyping on gender is among elements influencing early marriages in Malawi.
'In many aspects our society is embedded on the belief that boys can get education and jobs while girls cannot excel in education but marriage and this is reflected in the school dropouts' rates between girls and boys in favour of the former'.
This problem of cultural stereotyping can also exist at workplaces where men in-charge prefer to employing male youths than female ones because they do not trust the girls can equally deliver like their boys folk.
OPPOSITION Malawi Congress Party and People's Party told the The Daily Times Newspaper dated August 15 2014 that they wanted the minimum marriage age of 18 years with parents' consent and 20-21 years without parents' consent unlike 14-15 years with parents' consent.
JournAIDS bemoaning government for allowing a girl aged 15 to get married and reveals that by giving parental consent to the act is a serious violation of international laws. Therefore there is a need to review the current law and also ensure that during the Constitutional review process these amendments are taken into serious consideration since MDFRA is contradicting with various international human rights treaties and conventions.
For instance The Child Rights Convention (CRC) makes it clear that child have the right to protection education and socio-economic participation
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