Mali recently launched the AU campaign to end child marriage under the title “Education for girls, a means to eliminating child marriage”.
With child marriage taken as a practice that hinders girls from education, and strengthening their abilities to robustly embody the future of the country, Mali opened the campaign nationally starting in the village of Konobougou, just 160 km’s away from the capital city of Bamako.
Speaking at the launch, Mali’s First Lady Maiga Aminata Keita noted emphasized that education plays an important role in strengthening the abilities and personalities of these young women who embody the future of Mali – relating the number of school dropout rates to child marriage. She further expressed her full engagement and commitment to an end to child marriage, which she believes is a practice which undermines the socio-economic development of the country.
According to a UNICEF report, 71% of girls in Mali are married before 18, some girls even die from this gross act that masks itself under the false pretence of religious and cultural preservation. In the western village of Korera-Kore in early 2005, IRIN (http://www.irinnews.org/) told a saddening story of a 13-year-old girl who was forced into marriage during her school holidays. She died on her wedding night after health complications during sex. Stories such as hers are engrossed throughout the land, but most being girls who drop out of school to marry – mostly without a choice, and further disempowering themselves.
Through Mali’s adaptation of the end to child marriage campaign, there is an ease of harmonizing girls in schools through aligning country policies with the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child which have set marriage strictly at 18 years. This can at least deteriorate the number of girls who are not in schools as they become mothers prematurely, instead it will keep girls in institutions, further empowering them and enabling them to choose their future.