Education is one of the most if not most critical areas of empowerment for women. It is also an area that offers some of the clearest examples of discrimination women suffer when girls are married early and drop out of school. Among other factors, girls
not attending school results in twice as many illiterate women compared to their male counterparts. We also see very few women participating to their full potential economically and socially.
Offering girls basic education is one sure way of enabling them to have better opportunities in life and access to more resources to be able to make choices over the kinds of lives they wish to lead. That way women might have the chance of a healthier and happier life and this also has benefits for society as a whole. An educated woman has the skills, information and self-confidence that she needs to be a better parent, wife, worker and community member. This should not be a luxury but a basic
human right as established by The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
An educated woman is, for example, likely to marry at a later age and have fewer children. Research shows that an extra year of schooling for girls reduces the number of children she will have, and the children of an educated mother are more likely to survive. The return for educational investment is often higher for women than men. Educating a woman sees the income generated distributed effectively at the household level which promotes the health of the family unit and thus society as a whole.
Denial of Rights
Evidence shows that girls who marry early drop out of school and do not attain a formal education in order to assume household responsibilities. This contributes to the denial of a right to an education, which limits opportunities, health and economic
Early Child Marriage
Child marriage is a human rights violation and contributes to persistent poverty and gender inequality. Early child marriage deprives girls of an education, increases the likelihood of sexual violence, poverty and risk of complications or even death in childbirth. Nearly a third of girls in Zimbabwe marry before 18 and 4% before 15 (UNICEF). Children living in farming and mining
communities in Zimbabwe are at greatest risk to be married young.
Banning Child Marriage in Malawi
Malawi had one of the world’s highest rates of child marriage, with more than half of girls forced out of school and into marriage as children, some as early as age 9. Child marriage in Malawi was due to complex economic, cultural and religious factors caused and added to the consequence of poverty, gender-based violence and inequality that girls live with every day. Malawi was the first African country that passed a law banning child marriage which raised the minimum age for marriage to 18 in 2015.
Banning of Early Child Marriage in Zimbabwe
On the 20th of January 2016, Zimbabwe joined Malawi as one of the African countries to criminalize child marriage. This marked a historic day as Higherlife Foundation celebrated with the global community when Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court outlawed child marriage. With the support of a non-profit organization Real Opportunities for Transformation Support (ROOTS), Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi, former child brides and advocates against early marriage took the
government to court in a ground-breaking case to challenge the legalization of children under the age of 18 to be married. Loveness and Ruvimbo won the case and legally ended child marriage in Zimbabwe. With great joy we celebrate in this momentous
victory. The court ruled as of January 20th that no child under the age of 18 can enter into marriage including customary law unions. This struck down a section of the Marriage Act which allowed girls to marry at 16 and boys at 18.
Higherlife Foundation Empowers Girls through Education
Empowering children through education is core to the work of HLF. Higherlife Foundation believes access to education is key for children to live successful, healthy and productive lives. Girls having access to both primary and secondary education will improve their chances of access to employment and a means of supporting themselves and then in turn their families. The end of child marriage is a great achievement, however there are multiple levels of responses and actions needed to keep girls in school. As we go out into the communities we serve lets make it our responsibility to educate elders, parents and guardians of this new law and also encourage the young girls to stay in school for their good, the good of the families and the good of