Memory Banda: Give girls choices, not lives already decided for them

Updated 5:38 AM ET, Wed March 14, 2018

Memory is a 22-year-old activist, advocating for girl's education and against child marriage. The opinions in this article belong to the author.
Growing up in Malawi, one of the world's least-developed countries, exposes young girls to a number of risks -- some of which are life-threatening.
Despite the fact that there are so many people advocating for gender equality, women and girls still do not have much choice when it comes to taking control of their own lives. This often comes down to cultural traditions that seem at times impossible to overcome.
I have witnessed many injustices against women and girls in my country. It is so sad to see girls in life-threatening situations when they are so young, preventing them from exploring opportunities that would give them a completely different life.
When I was a little girl, I used to see my relatives, friends and schoolmates going through a rite of passage to adulthood. We all grew up knowing we would have to go through this at some point ourselves -- whether we understood what was happening to us or not. After all, we did not have a choice. It was something that the community expected of us.
In Malawi, there are numerous traditions that girls must go through as they approach adulthood. Girls as young as 10 are expected to go to "chinamwali" -- a camp where they are taugh