Chief Theresa Kachindamoto of Malawi, also locally known as ‘The Terminator,’ has dedicated her whole life to saving young girls from the curse of child marriage. 60-year old Kachindamoto is the tribal ruler of the Dedza District in central Malawi, in Southeast Africa. In 2003 after the death of her brother she was appointed as the new chief because she was the most educated woman in the area. Unlike other girls, Kachindamoto’s father who was also the chief supported her education. After completing her studies she got an office job at a large college in the southern city of Zomba, where she worked for 27 years.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • 60-year old Theresa Kachindamoto, tribal ruler of the Dedza District in central Malawi has rescued almost 3,500 child brides.
  • She has built up a large intelligence network of female informers, known as “the mothers’ group. They quietly monitor local activities across the district’s 545 villages.
  • 42% of girls are brides before their 18th birthday due to lack of education, poor economy and gender inequality.

Even in today’s post modernisation era, each year 12 million girls worldwide are forced into child marriage and Malawi’s condition is the worse. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 42% of girls are brides before their 18th birthday. With almost one in 10 wed before the age of 15, although the legal age for marriage is 18 years in Malawi. The lack of education, poor economy and gender inequality makes the situation worse.

In 16 years of her reign, she has rescued almost 3,500 child brides and helped them to restart their education. Her successful effort of making  Malawi’s parliament to pass a bill in 2015 setting the minimum age for both sexes at 18, gained her lots of international recognition.

Nevertheless, in 16 years of her reign, she has rescued almost 3,500 child brides and helped them to restart their education. Her successful effort of making  Malawi’s parliament to pass a bill in 2015 setting the minimum age for both sexes at 18, gained her lots of international recognition. Emma Watson visited her home village of Mtakataka in October 2016 as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. Also, she was facilitated in Washington DC at a ceremony attended by Hillary Clinton.

Read Also: Priyanka Shares Hasina’s Story Of How She Fought Child Marriage

Terminator and her ‘Mother’s Group’

Her method of fighting against child marriage is very effective as she has involved the entire community into this mission. In order to stop the evils of child marriage, she has built up a large intelligence network of female informers, known as “the mothers” group. This mother’s group quietly monitor local activities across the district’s 545 villages. She has even fired male sub chiefs who refused to ban child marriage.

In Malawi, almost 46% of girls leave school before age nine, mostly due to early marriage and teen pregnancy. In order to break the circle, Kachindamoto believes that continuing girls education is of utmost important. She even supports girls who can’t afford their education, with her own money.

In Malawi, almost 46% of girls leave school before age nine, mostly due to early marriage and teen pregnancy. In order to break the circle, Kachindamoto believes that continuing girls education is of utmost important.

A long way ahead

Kachindamoto’s ultimate goal is, not just stopping the current child marriage, but changing the mind-set of people to prevent this evil from spreading in future. “Changing attitudes and behaviours takes time, particularly with male chiefs and parents who benefit from child marriages. As we speak, parents are withdrawing their girls from schools. I tell them, if you educate your girl, you will have everything in the future,” says Kachindamoto. (iNews)

Further adding to this she said, “I have made it my life’s mission to end the practice of child marriage. I’m now fighting to raise the legal age for marriage to 21 so that the girls will finish school. It’s my dream to have college scholarships to empower girls to fulfil their potential.”

Read Also: Child Marriages See a Sharp Decline in India; UNICEF Reports

Image Credit: iNews

Divya Tripathi is an intern with ShThePeople.TV

Get the best of SheThePeople delivered to your inbox - subscribe to Our Power Breakfast Newsletter. Follow us on Twitter , Instagram , Facebook and on YouTube, and stay in the know of women who are standing up, speaking out, and leading change.