Let Girls Lead is thrilled to launch our celebration of International Day of the Girl 2014 with a blog series written by amazing girl leaders involved in our work around the world. Today’s blog is by Memory Banda, an 18 year old girl leader from Malawi, who will speak out for girls rights during the UN General Assembly on September 22. A survivor of gender based-violence, Memory has worked with Let Girls Lead and the Girls Empowerment Network (GENET) since she was 14 to end child marriage and harmful traditional practices.


Girl Leader Memory Banda, 18

Adolescent girls are the most vulnerable group in Malawi, particularly in the rural areas where female children are despised due to deeply rooted cultural beliefs and practices.

Child marriage is one of the most serious challenges that haunts adolescent girls. Social and economic pressures compel parents to force girls into early marriage, as girls are strongly told that marriage is the only option upon reaching puberty.

Currently, Malawi is a country with shocking statistics of child marriage. Half of girls between the ages of 14 and 20 are married, divorced or widowed, and catch deadly HIV/AIDS due to the harmful traditional practices and porous laws that facilitate child marriage. Currently, Malawi’s child marriage bill allows girls to marry at the age of 16, which I feel is a gross human rights violation by the state.

On health, child brides are five times more likely to die from childbirth complications and 60% of their babies are more likely to die, too. The primary danger to child brides is obstructed labor, which results in death or obstetric fistulas. Babies born to child brides also have elevated risks of infant mortality.

Malawian adolescent mothers are poorer, less educated, malnourished, and prone to greater social problems than educated girls. Adolescent girls who are forced into marriage, most often with much older men, drop out of primary school. Child brides are exposed to gender based violence, trauma, and death – evidence shows that some end up as prostitutes due to deepening poverty and desperation.

For me, it was a struggle to grow up in such an environment, where society expects girls to marry soon after reaching adolescence. I was pressured to marry too, but looking at the number of my peers who were being condemned to lives of extreme poverty, gender-based violence, vulnerability to HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, lack of information, and poor health, I became extremely resistant.

I challenged my family and explained that early marriage was not for me. I told those who thought that I should marry earlier that education and freedom of my rights would be the path of my life. I personally needed to change the way society perceives and defines the needs of girls and women. Most importantly, I needed a different society which respects my choices as a girl.

In 2011, I was lucky to meet an incredible grassroots movement of girls and young women called the Girls Empowerment Network (Genet Malawi) which works with Let Girls Lead, a global movement of advocates for girls’ rights. With their support, the number of girls in my club increased to 200 and we joined the Stop Child Marriage campaign. Genet helped us become leaders through trainings that effectively shaped us into agents of change.

I started mobilising other girls to stand up against all cultural odds that were condemning us to lives of captivity, and decided to form a girls’ community club. I decided to work hard on education and was selected to attend Chancellor College, one of the constituent colleges of the University of Malawi. This turned out to be a wonderful space for us girls to discuss critical issues that were standing in our way of achieving our goals. We began working to abolish the existing harmful traditions and perceptions that were undermining our power as girls and young women in society.

Our voices became the greatest tool for advocating change for ourselves, other girls, and young women in our community. We addressed challenges of harmful cultural practices, such as child marriage, which prevents thousands of girls from school. We were able to influence our traditional and community leaders and other stakeholders to take concrete actions against all forms of human rights violations against girls. For example, village leaders came up with community by-laws aimed at ending Child Marriage and sexual initiation practices.

One of the chiefs, Traditional Authority (T/A) Chitera, was promoted to Senior Chief by Malawi’s former President Joyce Banda, as a result of our good fight against Child Marriage.

The Stop Child Marriage campaign was also able to attract impressive media support, which made our call for girls’ rights a national concern.

These changes just confirm that taking a lead is something we all have to embrace now in order to fight against the crisis of Child Marriage. Let us all remember that adolescent girls are a group of special concern and opportunity, since our empowerment is a positive indicator of good things like lower fertility and child mortality, as well as successful micro-enterprise development.

Everyone can champion girls’ rights. This solution begins with hope, commitment and action.


We invite you to follow our #LetGirlsLead blog series, running from Monday, September 22nd to the International Day of the Girl on Saturday, October 11th on the Huffington Post. Each piece is an intimate window into the experiences of a girl leader and what she is doing to make the world a better place. Through the series, you can learn firsthand about the challenges facing girls globally and the amazing work girls are doing to create a better future. Let Girls Lead will also send out special weekly updates between now and IDG, highlighting the girls’ stories and sharing exclusive highlights of our new curriculum set to be released on October 11th in celebration of IDG.

Let Girls Lead is building a global movement of Champions who empower girls to attend school, stay healthy, escape poverty, and overcome violence. Let Girls Lead invests in girls and their allies to lead social change through advocacy, education, storytelling, economic empowerment, and strategic partnerships. Since 2009, Let Girls Lead’s externally validated model has contributed to improved health, education, livelihoods, and rights for more than 3 million girls through laws, programs, and funding. Let Girls Lead’s sister initiative, Champions for Change, leverages this proven model to save the lives of women, newborns, and children by empowering leaders and organizations to advocate for reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health in Nigeria.

Champions for Change and Let Girls Lead are headquartered at the Public Health Institute in Oakland, CA, a leader in global health and development for 50 years.

You May Also Like


  1. I like the valuable info you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and check again here frequently. I’m quite certain I will learn a lot of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!|

  2. You can certainly see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The arena hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to say how they believe. At all times follow your heart.|

  3. Please let me know if you’re looking for a article writer for your site. You have some really good articles and I feel I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d love to write some material for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please shoot me an email if interested. Kudos!|

  4. hello there and thank you for your information – I’ve definitely picked up something new from right here. I did however expertise some technical issues using this web site, since I experienced to reload the website many times previous to I could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your web host is OK? Not that I am complaining, but sluggish loading instances times will sometimes affect your placement in google and could damage your high quality score if advertising and marketing with Adwords. Anyway I am adding this RSS to my email and could look out for a lot more of your respective fascinating content. Ensure that you update this again very soon.|

  5. certainly like your web site however you have to take a look at the spelling on quite a few of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling problems and I to find it very troublesome to tell the truth then again I’ll definitely come back again.|

  6. Can I simply just say what a comfort to uncover someone that genuinely knows what they are talking about on the net. You definitely know how to bring a problem to light and make it important. A lot more people have to look at this and understand this side of the story. I was surprised you aren’t more popular since you most certainly have the gift.|

  7. Do your best to a target your current concept to suit the demands of the folks that you’re delivering it to. In case you are submitting a note regarding something which the face isn’t interested in, you will find there’s excellent opportunity that they will not take enough time to read the long term emails.

  8. Nice post. I learn one thing more difficult on different blogs everyday. It can always be stimulating to learn content from different writers and observe somewhat one thing from their store. I’d choose to make use of some with the content material on my blog whether you don’t mind. Natually I’ll give you a hyperlink in your web blog. Thanks for sharing.

  9. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a co-worker who was conducting a little research on this. And he in fact ordered me breakfast because I stumbled upon it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to talk about this subject here on your website.|

  10. Greetings I am so grateful I found your site, I really found you by error, while I was looking on Askjeeve for something else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say thank you for a tremendous post and a all round thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design), I don韙 have time to read it all at the minute but I have saved it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the superb work.

  11. You made some decent points there. I checked on the web to find out more about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this website.|

  12. I’ve been surfing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be much more useful than ever before.|

  13. I’m really enjoying the theme/design of your site. Do you ever run into any internet browser compatibility issues? A small number of my blog visitors have complained about my website not operating correctly in Explorer but looks great in Opera. Do you have any suggestions to help fix this problem?

  14. With havin so much content and articles do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright violation? My blog has a lot of exclusive content I’ve either created myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my agreement. Do you know any methods to help stop content from being ripped off? I’d really appreciate it.

  15. You really make it appear so easy with your presentation however I in finding this topic to be actually something that I feel I might by no means understand. It seems too complex and extremely huge for me. I’m having a look ahead on your next post, I will attempt to get the hang of it!

  16. whoah this weblog is wonderful i love reading your articles. Stay up the good work! You recognize, a lot of individuals are searching round for this info, you can aid them greatly. |

  17. I’ve been browsing online more than three hours as of late, but I by no means discovered any interesting article like yours. It is beautiful worth sufficient for me. In my opinion, if all site owners and bloggers made good content as you probably did, the net will likely be a lot more helpful than ever before.|

  18. Hey there, I think your website might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your blog site in Opera, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, terrific blog!|

  19. I’ve been exploring for a little bit for any high quality articles or blog posts in this sort of space . Exploring in Yahoo I finally stumbled upon this web site. Reading this info So i am satisfied to express that I’ve a very good uncanny feeling I came upon just what I needed. I so much undoubtedly will make certain to don’t overlook this site and give it a glance on a continuing basis.

  20. My spouse and i got really excited that John could do his analysis out of the ideas he grabbed from your web pages. It is now and again perplexing just to choose to be giving out key points which usually many others have been making money from. Therefore we already know we’ve got the blog owner to appreciate for this. The specific illustrations you have made, the straightforward website menu, the friendships you help to foster – it’s mostly wonderful, and it’s letting our son and the family believe that this content is satisfying, and that’s wonderfully fundamental. Thanks for everything!

  21. Greetings from Carolina! I’m bored to death at work so I decided to check out your site on my iphone during lunch break. I love the information you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m amazed at how fast your blog loaded on my phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, great site!

  22. Hey! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this article to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!|

  23. Hi there to every body, it’s my first pay a quick visit of this website; this weblog consists of amazing and truly good information for visitors.|

  24. I like this weblog very much, Its a really nice position to read and get information. “Education is the best provision for old age.” by Aristotle.

  25. First off I want to say great blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your mind before writing. I’ve had difficulty clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out there. I truly do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or hints? Thank you!|

  26. My spouse and i ended up being now excited Ervin could do his reports through the precious recommendations he received when using the web page. It is now and again perplexing just to always be giving out helpful hints that people today may have been selling. And we all fully grasp we need the writer to give thanks to for this. The explanations you’ve made, the simple website menu, the friendships you can help instill – it’s got most impressive, and it is aiding our son and us reckon that this idea is entertaining, and that is exceptionally fundamental. Thanks for all the pieces!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

From The World