Ruth Maguire, SNP MSP for Cunninghame South, marked International Women’s Day by joining with school girls from across Scotland to speak out on child marriage – an issue which affects more than 700 million women around the world today who have been married as children.

The girls were asked by international development charity Tearfund Scotland to speak at an event in the Scottish Parliament on behalf of a girl in Malawi of a similar age, to share her powerful story and highlight the charity’s work to rescue girls in the region caught up in this harmful practice.

In Malawi, half of girls are married by their 18th birthday, with some as young as aged 9 or 10 being forced to marry. Tearfund is working through the local community to put an end to child marriage and provide opportunities for young people to return to education and pursue a brighter future. They also working to prevent many more young people from finding themselves caught up in marriages against their will.

Ruth was delighted to meet with the girls and highlight this important issue.

Commenting, Ruth said:

‘Forced child marriage is cruel, distressing and intolerable. I commend the work being done by Tearfund to raise awareness around it and work towards ending it, providing positive opportunities and alternatives for young girls.’

Lynne Paterson, Director of Tearfund Scotland, said “This International Women’s Day we celebrated the significant impact Tearfund’s project has had in communities across the north of Malawi, where more and more young girls are back in school where they are able to flourish and learn. When a girl is educated, not only does it give her more choices and greater self-confidence, but it also contributes to society as a whole, helping to break the cycle of poverty. We are grateful to Ruth Maguire MSP for her help to highlight this issue and the work we are doing to ensure it becomes a thing of the past.’

Tearfund Scotland has also launched a photo exhibition telling the hard-hitting stories of 7 girls whose lives have been transformed as a result of this project. To find out more, visit tearfund.org/7girlsmalawi