Safi, 15, from Tombo Beri, Niger is among a group of young people working to end child marriage in her community. She says: "Many girls aged 10 to 17, like me do not go to school. This exposes us to early and often forced marriage.
"What worries me most is that there are no opportunities in our village. After domestic work, girls have no occupation and this prompts many parents to marry off their girls, even if they are very young".
Youth groups oppose child marriage
To protect ourselves from early marriage, we need to have vocational training centres
Safi is a member of the youth government in Tombo Beri, a social platform set up to manage youth issues in the community. This is one of a number of community structures that have been created following Plan International’s awareness raising campaigns to stop child marriage in Niger. These groups allow regular exchanges between different groups on key issues.
Thanks to this work, girls are expressing themselves and are increasingly opposed to the marriage of their peers. They are calling on traditional and religious leaders who manage child marriage in their community to bring an end to the practice and provide girls with more opportunities.
More opportunities, less marriages
Safi says: "To protect ourselves from early marriage, we need to have vocational training centres in our village. This opportunity will allow those who have not had the chance to go to school to learn a trade."
Plan International Niger has set up child protection committees in 77 communities to increase local knowledge and awareness about child marriage and other types of abuse. They also provide local leaders with the tools they need to keep girls safe and protect their rights.