New, Financially Independent Life for Former Child Brides in Mozambique |

Teresa Gala is a 44-year-old mother of five. She got married at 14 and had to drop out of school due to new circumstances. For more than three decades, her days have been filled with housework and childcare. During the growing season, Ms. Gala added work to her family farm to her daily routine.

However, her thoughts were always focused on her own business, which would give her financial independence.

“Because I did not study and had no means of subsistence, I always had to ask my husband for money,” says Ms Gala. – Knowing that he earns little, I sometimes asked for almost nothing, but so far I have heard “no” many times. It was very humiliating.”

Three decades ago, when she got married, there was almost no controversy about child marriage in the country, but things are changing for the better. Since 2019, the Spotlight Initiative, a global United Nations initiative funded by the European Union, has been supporting the approval and implementation of Mozambican laws that protect women and girls from gender-based violence and harmful practices such as early marriage.

Safe space to thrive

In 2021, Ms. Gala’s life improved when she joined the Women’s Tambara Association (ASMTA) in Manica province, an organization supported by the Spotlight Initiative. These associations and women’s groups create support networks where women can learn and grow together economically, and create trusting relationships and safe spaces to address issues related to gender-based violence and women’s rights. In Mozambique, the Spotlight initiative has supported more than 9,000 women in this way over the past year.

Through the group, Ms. Gala gained access to a “business kit” that included the initial funds to start a company selling yogurt made from malambe (baobab fruit) and mahe (fermented corn drink).

In Tambara, where Ms. Gala lives, temperatures easily rise above 40 degrees Celsius, but by investing her first profit in a freezer, she was able to make Maheu and Malembe ice cream, which was an instant hit with her customers.

With more money, Ms. Gala was able to buy a mobile phone, which allowed her to communicate with customers and social contacts, as well as join the national mobile finance system.

With the income from her micro-enterprise, she now contributes to household expenses and pays for the university education of one of her daughters, who is studying to become an M.D.

“My business makes me feel more respected at home. Today, I am a financially stable woman with savings who contributes to household expenses and my children’s education,” she says. “I no longer have to wait for my husband to meet my financial needs.”

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