Girls in Malawi face multiple barriers that prevent them from enjoying their rights and realising their full potential. In many cases, household poverty and discriminatory practices which favour boys over girls mean that girls lack access to education. Those that are in school often face environments which are not girl-friendly, while sexual and gender-based violence remains a threat inside and outside of the classroom.
Malawi has one of the highest child marriage rates in the world. Despite laws against it, almost 1 in 2 girls are married before the age of 18. Cultural, social and economic factors - inter-generational poverty, social insecurity and limited economic opportunities, low educational levels and limited knowledge of children's rights - mean the practice is still deeply entrenched. The billboard here reads: "Every Child has the right to be heard; Let’s all join hands in combating child marriage."
To help change this, Save the Children Malawi is implementing an EU-funded project which aims to combat child marriage and human trafficking in Mwanza and Neno districts. The project aims to promote children's rights through awareness-raising activities, including through child-led clubs.
Girls' camps provide girl-only safe spaces which offer girls a platform to talk about the challenges they face, as well as build their capacity as champions and advocates for girls' rights. The camps also offer girls the chance to just be girls. "This girls' camp has helped us to realise that we have the right to say NO to early marriages and chose to continue with our education," said 16-year-old Sunganani Eliya, 2017 Girls' Camp President in Neno district. "Our parents have the duty to see through our education. It is important that each one of us here think about their future and decide on what they would like to be."