Amal Clooney joins Michelle Obama and Melinda Gates in Malawi to pledge to end child marriage within a generation – as she praises their ‘lovely and organic’ friendship
Amal Clooney has joined Michelle Obama and Melinda Gates in Malawi to reaffirm their commitment to ending child marriage.
The 45-year-old barrister is the co-founder of the Clooney Foundation For Justice (CFJ) with her Hollywood actor husband, George.
Amal, Michelle and Melinda – who are among the world’s most influential women – have pledged to end child marriage within a generation after joining forces last year.
However, the UN has warned that child marriage will not be eradicated for another 300 years.
Speaking of their work, Amal told BBC News: ‘It’s been a really lovely and very organic partnership, and friendship, between the three of us.’
Speaker: Amal Clooney has joined Michelle Obama and Melinda Gates in Malawi to reaffirm their commitment to ending child marriage
Power trio: Amal, Michelle and Melinda spoke at the Ludzi Girls School
The former First Lady of the United States added of their commitment to end child marriage: ‘It is an issue that can be solved tomorrow. It could happen in less than a generation.’
The CFJ’s latest initiative, Waging Justice For Women, funds the Women Lawyers Association of Malawi.
Their work has so far included providing free legal advice and aid clinics in some of the most remote areas of Malawi miles from roads and electricity.
Amal participated in the first clinic in the Mchinji region, which is one of 12 child marriage ‘hot spots’ in the country.
It was attended by an audience of 1,000, including 800 women, and included one-on-one consultations.
Amal said: ‘It is a privilege to be working alongside so many inspirational Malawian women in the fight to make child marriage history.
‘Child marriage persists because there are inadequate legal protections for millions of girls across Africa.
‘And even in nations such as Malawi where child marriage is prohibited, girls cannot access justice.
Firm friendship: Amal and Michelle spoke on stage alongside Ulanda Mtamba
Trip: Amal also met with the president of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera
Philanthropy: Barrister Amal attended a legal clinic, with the aim of helping women be aware of their rights
Famous figure: Amal and her actor husband, George, founded the Clooney Foundation for Justice in 2016
‘CFJ now supports legal aid clinics in four countries – Malawi, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia – and will continue to expand this model to increase access to justice for women and girls across the continent.’
Amal also met with the president of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera, who renewed the government’s commitment to end child marriage in the country by 2030 after their meeting and asked the Finance Minister to allocate sufficient resources to the task.
According to UNICEF, about 640 million girls and women alive today were married as children.
The NGO Girls Not Brides says 42 per cent of girls in Malawi are already married by the age of 18.
In Mchinji, 33 per cent of girls reportedly fall pregnant before 18.
President of the WLA, Chisomo Nyemba, said: ‘The Clooney Foundation for Justice is assisting us in carrying out mobile legal clinics throughout the country in remote areas. That is where we have clients who are in most need of our services.
‘The prevalence of child marriages in the rural areas is really high [because of] a multitude of factors, starting with the social economic status of most people in the villages, the lack of awareness in the villages as well as people in the village just not knowing alternatives.
‘Thanks to the Clooney Foundation’s support we are now able to reach these areas, and to focus on child marriage, for the first time.’
Clinics: She spent time with local children as part of one of the clinics, which will aim to reach the most remote areas of Malawi
Commitment: Panel discussions with Amal, Michelle, Graça Machel, and Melinda
United: Amal joined forces with Michelle and Melinda last year
Later on Amal met with victims of sexual violence in Cape Town.
She and her husband, George, co-founded the CFJ in 2016.
It now operates in more than 40 countries and its work includes investigating war crimes in Ukraine and monitoring sham trials.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Amal and George donated $1million to relief efforts.
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