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First Lady challenges girls on education

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First Lady Monica Chakwera has challenged girls in the country to pursue education in order to deal with the various challenges that stand between them and their destiny.

She was speaking in Lilongwe Friday when she presided over the second day of the Generation Equality Conference where the Education-plus initiative was also launched.

Chakwera said girls cannot rise to be great leaders without a good and complete education.

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She then appeared to champions and stakeholders to nurture young girls along lines of understanding the past in order to draw lessons and the present to pick good practices among other things.

Chakwera bemoaned that many girls in Malawi still dropout of school at a tender age after falling pregnant, such girls are also at higher risk of contracting HIV.

“Education has a protective benefit in reducing the risk of HIV infection. Completion of secondary education by adolescent girls has reduced HIV infection by up to one-half in some countries,” she said.

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Government Statistics indicate that only 27 percent of girls enroll in secondary school, only 13 percent will attend, and less than five percent will graduate.

One in five girls has been sexually abused before they reach 18 years and 29 percent of girls under the age of 18 have been pregnant.

Commenting on the numbers, the First Lady said the development is a tragedy not just for the girls and their families but also Malawi as a nation.

“Although essential, education alone is not enough to address the multifaceted challenges faced by the adolescent girls and young women. Evidence indicates that successful interventions should address multiple underlying structural factors affecting them,” Chakwera said.

She then hailed the Education Plus Initiative saying it is important since it focuses on ensuring that every adolescent girl young woman can complete a full cycle of quality education and is empowered to lead a secure, healthy, fulfilling, and productive life.

The outgoing Country Representative for UNWomen Clara Anyangwe said they hope that leaders will act on their commitment to empower women and girls after conference.

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