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Ending child marriage in Malawi

Ending child marriage in Malawi

Because I am a Girl

[This petition is now closed]

“In Malawi, boys are told they can become the President, while girls are told they will become a wife. Why can’t I be both?” – Memory, a youth campaigner.

At Plan International UK we fight every day for a future in which girls and young women can enjoy the same opportunities and have the same ambitions as their brothers. But in Malawi today, half of young women were married as children. We supported a group of young campaigners who were determined to change this.

Victory: We launched a petition, asking people around the world to stand with young activists in their campaign to close a loophole in Malawi’s constitution that enabled child marriage to continue. More than 42,000 people from around the world stood with the campaigners. In February 2017 we were delighted when the government approved a bill to make child marriage illegal.

Youth campaigners ending child marriage in Malawi
Memory and her fellow youth activists successfully campaigned to make child marriage illegal in Malawi.

Youth campaigners

The success of this campaign was down to the hard work of Memory and her fellow youth activists who campaigned on this issue for several years.

In 2015 a Bill was passed by the Malawian government that outlawed child marriage. But the new law was undermined by the country’s constitution, which still allowed children to be married from 16, with parental consent.

The young campaigners continued their campaign to close this loophole in the countries constitution and your support made their voices heard!  

We believe that the most powerful advocates for change are young people and this amazing group have made incredible strides. 

The petition to end child marriage had more than 42,000 signatures

youth advocates' conference

The young campaigners organised a conference in early September 2016, where they worked with decision-makers and rallied support to amend the constitution.

The First Lady of Malawi attended the conference and Memory handed the petition over to her. The First Lady said, "Today I have seen the power of girls when they stand together to make things happen. As your goodwill ambassador I will work with you." 

In February 2016 the government of Malawi pledged to change their constitution and make child marriage illegal - thanks to the incredible hard work and persistence of the young campaigners and the support of people across the globe!

Winning the Big Impact Award

For our successful campaign to change the constitution and end child marriage in Malawi we received the Big Impact Award in the Third Sector Awards 2017, which celebrates projects that have a substantial impact on national or international life. We asked young advocates and campaigners in Malawi to speak to you directly, putting their voices and experiences at the forefront.

The Third Sector judges said that we "showed an incredible amount of faith in [our] young campaigners", but it wasn't just us – over 42,000 of you joined us to stand with Memory and her fellow youth activists.


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