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“I told my father there was no way I’d be getting married at 13”

14-year-old Woyzer is a member of the Girls Advocacy Alliance, an initiative by Plan International to combat child marriage in Ethiopia. So when a man visited Woyzer’s family looking for a wife, she was adamant that she would not become his bride.

14-year-old Woyzer is a member of the Girls Advocacy Alliance
14-year-old Woyzer is a member of the Girls Advocacy Alliance

14-year-old Woyzer is a member of the Girls Advocacy Alliance, an initiative by Plan International to combat child marriage in Ethiopia. So when a man visited Woyzer’s family looking for a wife, she was adamant that she would not become his bride.

When I was 13, a man visited my family asking if he could marry me. I was out working on the land with the sheep at the time so I never saw him, but my sister told me what had happened.

I confronted my father and told him there was no way I would be getting married and that he’d be wasting his time if he started preparing my wedding. I’m still young and I knew I’d almost certainly get very ill if I got pregnant at this age. I also didn’t want to end up like my sister, who got married when she was 12 or 13. 

I knew the man hadn’t yet brought bread [a traditional symbol which makes a marriage proposal official when it is broken by the prospective husband together with the bride’s father) so I told my father not to accept it when he did. He agreed.

I have greater awareness about why child marriage is harmful than my sister ever did. She didn’t know about the health problems - like fistula - that teenage pregnancy can cause.

I’ve also helped my friends cancel their weddings. I put a note in the box at school to alert my teachers that my friend Yekaba was about to be married. Thankfully her wedding was cancelled too. 

I would like to get married one day - but not until I’m 18 and I’ve finished my education. 

About the project

With a total target beneficiary of 34,628 in Amhara region, Girls’ Advocacy Alliance (GAA) is implemented by Plan International Ethiopia to eliminate the vulnerability of girls and young women to FGM, CM, trafficking and sexual exploitation, and rise their involvement in meaningful economic activities.  Plan International Ethiopia involves actors, including, religious leaders, health officials, teachers, parents, girls themselves and other community structures to realize the objective of the project.