Together with other youth advocates I’ve been campaigning for over 2 years to end child marriage in Malawi.
Join the movement for girls' rights Marriage is a big thing. I don’t think children are ready for marriage at 17 or younger. A woman needs to be ready physically and mentally for marriage. It’s not something an 11-year-old girl can or should deal with.
This is what motivated me to do something about child marriage. I’m breaking all the preconceptions of what a girl should be doing.
Working with the government
Together with Plan International I’m talking to government officials and campaigning to try and make a change.
If we can amend the constitution and show families to treat girls equally, we can stop child marriage
The government is supportive. They are happy young people are engaging in the issue and that’s why we think we can achieve some real impact. We are the leaders of today, not just tomorrow, so it’s important for young people to drive campaigns to make change.
Last year the law was changed to outlaw child marriage but a small section of the constitution still allows children to get married before 18 with their parents’ consent. This means parents can still force their children into early marriages. We want this section of the constitution removed because we believe it’s creating an imbalance in our society.
Girls deserve equality
We understand that changing the constitution is just the beginning. The inequalities of family life also need to be addressed – girls are taught that they can’t dream, but boys can. Girls are raised to be mothers and wives. Why can’t we do the same as boys? Men and women should share the responsibilities of the family.
My fellow campaigner, Mervis has a twin brother and she is treated very differently to him. She has to return home from school and do the household chores and cook. Her brother doesn’t even know how to cook. My children will learn that boys and girls are the same and should do things equally.
If we can amend the constitution and show families to treat girls equally, we can stop child marriage. Then girls can continue their education and be saved from pregnancy and childbirth when they are still children themselves.
Tionge and other young campaigners are continuing to work with the government in Malawi to amend the constitution to finally end child marriage. Currently, 46% of girls are married before 18 in Malawi.