Malawi woman looks to change girl’s education

Chrissie Chipewa had to drop out of school at the age of 12. Now she’s fighting to keep other young girls in Malawi in school. Serena Chaudhry reports.

BLANTYRE, MALAWI (Reuters) – Chrissie Chipewa has one mission: to keep girls in Malawi in school.

It’s a country that has one of the highest early marriage rates for girls in the world – and a battle that’s deeply personal.

Because she was forced to drop out of school at the age of 12, and had to fight gender stereotypes and poverty to get her own education.


“The problem is that most of the parents, they don’t see the importance of school to the young girls. They think that whenever the girl has reached maturity, then she can be married so that she can take care of herself. They don’t care how this can affect her future.”

Chipewa works at the Amalika Teacher Training College in Blantyre, teaching language and life skills to women learning to be educators themselves.

When she’s not at the blackboard, she gives motivational talks, encouraging girls to empower themselves through education.


“I feel motivated to do more and also to reach more girls who have dropped out of school and also to reach more girls who might have that thinking of dropping out, not to drop out. So, I feel very happy to see more girls coming back to school.”

Nine percent of Malawi’s girls are married by 15, 50 percent by the time they’re 18, according to the United Nations Children’s Agency.

The country’s National Statistics Office says nearly 30 percent of girls aged 15-19 are either pregnant or have already given birth.

But the government is working to change that.

In 2017, it amended a law to raise the minimum age for marriage to 18 from 15.

And the education ministry is also encouraging girls with babies to stick with school.

On a personal level, Chipewa is pleased to see her hard work is paying off.

Some of her former students now teach at schools elsewhere in the country.

Associated Links

  • Geography of Africa
  • Africa
  • Countries
  • Malawi
  • Serena Deeb

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