Miss Malawi winner vows to promote education for girls

Miss Malawi 2017 Cecelia Khofi
Cecelia Kohli is crowned as the 2017 Miss Malawi (Facebook / Miss Malawi, https://www.facebook.com/mismalawi/)

Barriers to education, Child marriage, Girls' education, Right to education

The winner of the Miss Malawi title has promised to use her voice to promote education for girls.

Cecelia Khofi, who has a Bachelor of Science degree in nutrition, said she believed that encouraging more girls to succeed at school would help to tackle many of the country’s problems, including overpopulation.

The 23-year-old, who works for the ministry of health, added: “I believe education is the best weapon in bringing about positive change in our society.”

Cecelia is also a human rights activist who works with organisations to fight gender-based violence and human trafficking.

Miss Malawi Cecelia Khofi Is Congratulated By First Lady Dr Gertrude Mutharika

Cecelia is congratulated by Malawi’s First Lady Dr Gertrude Mutharika (Facebook / Miss Malawi, https://www.facebook.com/mismalawi/)

She said education was “the strongest mitigation measure for overpopulation”.

Child marriage, teenage pregnancies and the non-use of contraceptives have become hot topics in Malawi, where the population has grown rapidly to 16 million.

First Lady Dr Gertrude Mutharika had called on the Miss Malawi contestants to be agents of change.

She said: “As beautiful young women I urge you to go out there and be good role models to the young girls.

“Go out there and be advocates of girls’ education. Denounce and condemn all obstacles standing in the way of girls’ education.”

The Miss Malawi runner-up was 21-year-old Nthanda Lizzie Manduwi, who has a degree in Social Sciences (double majoring in economics and demography) from Chancellor College – the same school where Cecelia graduated.

About one in 10 primary-age children in Malawi are out of school. But when it comes to secondary education, fewer than 40% of females now aged 25 and over had some secondary schooling.

Half of all girls in Malawi are married by the age of 18 – and one in eight by 15. They are more likely to drop out of school, get pregnant early and suffer physical and emotional violence.

A legal loophole allowed those aged 15 to 18 to continue to marry if they had parental consent – but that was changed by law in February.

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