The country first Lady Dr Gertrude Mutharika has expressed concern over challenges that girls are still facing in the country.
Madam Mutharika who is also the president of Organisation on African First Ladies Against HIV and AIDS (OAFLA) expressed the concern when she met students at Ntcheu Secondary School.
In her speech, Dr Gertrude Mutharika who is also a patron of Family Planning Association of Malawi (FPAM) said she is concerned with the increase in the number of girls being abused in different forms in the country.
“Girls continue to face various challenges in their day to day living and some of these challenges include forced and early marriages, rape, HIV and AIDS and these impact on them negatively as such they fail to grow and develop into their full potential,” said Dr Mutharika.
The First Lady then appealed for concerted efforts by all stakeholders such as non-governmental organizations, traditional and religious leaders, parents and guardians to ensure that girls and young women are protected from various forms of abuse.
She said most of the challenges which girls face in Malawi are also experienced by girls in many African countries and that girls besides other interventions should have high self-esteem and refrain from the influence of peer pressure.
“The vices of abusing girls’ rights are too many to cite. However the most and common outcome is that girls drop out of school, get pregnant and deliver with complications which in some cases lead to fistula development and even death,” she said.
Mutharika advised girls to persevere and work hard to perform well in class for them to have better future and become productive citizens of the country.
She assured the students that she would soon intensify interactions with disadvantaged girls to assess their needs in order to come up with better assistance and interventions with the goal of promoting girls to be educated.
“The Beautify Malawi initiative is supporting about 6000 students in different educational institutions, and I will continue with this to ensure that more girls are supported,” said the First Lady.
The interface meeting was spiced up by testimonies on early marriage and sexual abuse, presentations on role of girls in ending teenage pregnancies and child marriages and the role of traditional leaders in advocating for rights of girls and young.