Paola Gianturco
  • Lydia, 16 years old, celebrates the news that child marriage is illegal in Malawi, a triumph for the Girls Empowerment Network and its allies. "Education leads from poverty to prosperity," she says. The most important lesson she learned from the Girls Empowerment Network: "I have an independent mind. I have a voice and can use it when I want to." She has used it often to advocate against child marriage. "I saw a lot of girls going back to school because I told them that the only passport for them is education. Without it, you are dependent on a man. Education makes you independent," she says.
    Paola Gianturco
  • Joyce Mkandawire, co-founder of Girls Empowerment Network (GENET), wears a T-shirt that the girls use to promote their campaign against child marriage. She says, "To me, education was everything."
    Paola Gianturco
  • Lydia joined GENET five years ago and became avidly engaged in the campaign to end child marriage at the national level and in the Chiradzulu District. "I am the one who told the chief that we want 21 as the age of marriage in the bylaws even though the national age is 18. For me, 21 is much better. At least girls will have written their high school exams."
    Paola Gianturco
  • Matrida, 18, says, "Tradition is the law here. But I believe it is possible to change." "I can boast to you today that I personally managed to rescue a 14-year-old girl who was married off," says Matrida, who’s been a GENET member for four years. "GENET's training gave me strength. The girl I rescued was my best friend. I took this as my own issue, not her issue. I feel I am responsible for my friends, just as my friends are responsible for me."
    Paola Gianturco
  • Women's roles in Malawi are apparent as you drive along the highway between Biantyre and Chitera, Malawi.
    Paola Gianturco
  • Christina, 15 years old, wants people to say, "This girl, she went back to school and now she's a doctor. Right here." When the photographer asked what her experiences taught her, she says, "I learned that my future is not limited by anyone. I, myself, have responsibility for my future. I work as hard as I can so what I dream about will come to pass."
    Paola Gianturco
  • Women and girls carry water home from a community pump in Chitera, Malawi.
    Paola Gianturco
  • In 2015 parliament passed a law that banned child marriage. But it hasn’t been enforced everywhere. Many people don’t even know about the law. </br></br> Olivia Mapemba, village headwoman.
    Paola Gianturco
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