By Chisomo Kalumula
There is a popular saying that goes like “It takes a village to raise a child.” This saying is very common especially in instances where a person has succeeded. This saying goes to show that one’s success is not only attributed to the parents of an individual, but also to the other members of the community.
In a report titled “The situation of children and women in Malawi,” UNICEF noted that 46.7 percent of girls are married off the legal age of 18 and another 9 percent are married off before the age of 15.
All these girls are part of a community or a “village” as they say. Yet still some people in the villages have married the girls off for reasons only known to them. These girls have lost all the opportunities to pursue an education, a better life and chance to influence greater change in their societies. Their dreams have been killed right before their very eyes.
The fact that it takes a whole village to raise a child is proof that everyone in the community has a role to play in securing the future of the girl child. It is not only the parents’ job but even other members including: traditional leaders, teachers and fellow students everyone have a role to play in the fight against child marriage.
Girls should be given an opportunity to know that there is more to the world outside their villages. This exposure to opportunities outside the usual comfort zone brings growth and knowledge.
Given the opportunity to see other women, who are leaders in various sectors, young girls are are able to appreciate the importance of pursuing an education instead. Similarly, when the community begins to see women as leaders and changemakers. Communities begin to see women as equals in development. This is where the concept of the village comes in.
Besides looking at helping girls interact with the global village let us begin to empower boys to also take an active role in pushing for equal education opportunities for girls. Boys can also be active in the fight against early marriages as they too are affected. There is a great need to reach out to the young men and their families to encourage them to aspire for education and provide them with external exposure stating the importance of an education. This encourages boys to be voices and advocates against marrying off girls who can then become important participants in development.
Ending early marriage in Malawi will take the efforts of every member of the community to ensure that their youth and in particular girls are well educated, informed and aware of their rights. It is about time we realised that village is a place of exposure and knowledge. The villages that we create for girls can either make them into leaders. Let us create villages that foster creativity, success and dreams to change the world.