In Malawi, it is not unusual to see small girls being separated from their families and forced to marry someone they have never even met before.
In 2015, in an attempt to eliminate these evil practices, a law was passed that prohibited marriages to minors, yet parents still gave their girls away for money.
Apart from being married off at very young ages, most of these girls went through indiscriminate pregnancies and the rates of STDs increased exponentially.
However, when Theresa Kachindamoto became the senior chief of Dedza district, she declared war on these inhumane practices.
Theresa's appointment as chief was very unlikely as she was a woman, the youngest of twelve children and a mother of five, but when she was called upon, she answered.
The first day she donned the traditional beads, red robes, and a leopardskin headband as a senior chief she started touring her district.
She was shocked at what she found and declared that she would bring an end to the tradition of underage marriages.
“Whether you like it or not, I want these marriages to be terminated.”
And she accomplished that!
Theresa met with 50 of her sub-chiefs and had them sign an agreement which puts an end to child marriage and even fired four chiefs who acted against the deal.
In her district area, young girls cannot be married off again!
In addition to this, Chief Theresa annulled about 850 child marriages and sent the affected girls back to school.
Although many kicked and screamed against the new laws Theresa brought about, saying she did not have the right to mess with their tradition, most of them grew to understand the wisdom in her actions.
Theresa's bravery and hard work have been a source of inspiration to many leaders around the world, as she defied more than just the odds to do the right thing.
She went against tradition for the sake of her subjects, district, and the country at large, and her actions are nothing short of admirable. Theresa’s act is the definition of true leadership!