First Lady asks chiefs to abolish harmful cultural practices

Blantyre: First Lady Madame Professor Gertrude Mutharika has appealed to chiefs in the country to abolish cultural practices which among others fuel child marriages.

Mutharika made the appeal at Chisawani Primary School ground in Blantyre during a Women Development Meeting organised to interact with women around Mpemba area.

The First Lady said she is always saddened to learn about girls being forced into marriage under the pretext of preserving culture.

Girls education is very important. Every country that has educated women has potential to develop, I would, therefore, like to appeal to traditional leaders in the country to stop practicing such cultures as those that hinder girl child education, she said.

Mutharika also discouraged parents from forcing their children into early marriages, saying forcing children into marriage was constitutionally unacceptable and that it was total infringement on the principles of human rights.

Parents shouldn’t be enticed with the little support they receive from men who want to marry their daughters. The first thing they need to think about is the future of their children.

Every child needs decent and independent life, therefore, let us not make bad decisions for our children. Early marriage has a lot of consequences and one of them is complications during child birth, she said.

Mutharika said she thought of organising the meeting with women because women are the ones who look after their families and talking to them would make a huge difference.

During the meeting, Madame Mutharika also appealed to women in the country to live healthier, unite and work towards uplifting each other, noting that working in isolation would lead the country and women in particular, to a dudgeon.

Lets forget about the region we come from, the political party we belong to, the churches we congregate and build our country. As women, we have the power to change things but what we lack is unity of purpose.

The country will soon hold general elections, let us unite in prayer and wish the country a successful electoral process, Mutharika emphasised.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Director of Women for the Southern Region, Bertha Nachuma hailed the First Lady for the great role she was playing in ensuring that girls in the country get better and quality education.

Nachuma said through the Beautify Malawi Trust (BEAM), Mutharika has managed to build girls’ hostels in various secondary schools across the country and that the trust was paying schools fees for needy students.

We always appreciate the good things you do for us women. You have always encouraged us to go for cervical cancer screening to take good care of ourselves and to work in unity, said Nachuma.

Member of Parliament for Blantyre Rural South West, Kennedy Kachingwe and Group Village Headman Jumbe saluted Madame Mutharika for her unwavering efforts towards women and girls’ welfare.

Kachingwe while commending Mutharika asked her through the BEAM Trust to consider girls in his constituency, whom, he said, were walking long distances to school and that constructing hostels would ease the challenge they encounter in their quest for quality education.

Source: Malawi News Agency MANA