Banda is a tireless leader for girls’ rights around the world. She is leading Malawi’s fight to end child marriage through her work with Let Girls Lead and the Girl Empowerment Network of Malawi.
Only 18-years-old, Banda championed a successful national campaign that culminated in landmark legislation that outlawed child marriage. Banda works with girl leaders to ensure that village chiefs ban child marriage, end sexual initiation practices, enable girls to finish school and live safe from violence in a country where more than half of girls are married as children.
She became an advocate for girls after her younger sister was forced into marriage at the age of 11. She is now a college student in Malawi.
Her life took a divergent path from her sister’s. When her sister reached puberty, she was sent to a traditional “initiation camp” that teaches girls “how to sexually please a man.” She got pregnant there – at age 11.
Banda, however, refused to go. Instead, she organised others and asked her community’s leader to issue a bylaw that no girl should be forced to marry before turning 18. She pushed on to the national level… with incredible results for girls across Malawi.