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Stop the wedding: Fadi and Baki's story

Niger has the highest rate of child marriage in the world: A staggering 75% of girls in the country are married before they reach 18, and early 40% before they reach 15. In the Dosso region, the age of girls being forced to marry can be as low as 9 years old. Plan International’s research in this area has shown that the persistence of the practice of early and forced marriage is based on customary practices of exploitation of girls and an inherently unequal and therefore discriminatory vision of women and girls. As a response Plan International and a team of children have begun to educate the whole community on the dangers of early marriage and the reasons why marriage should not be rushed into.

15-year-old Fadi comes from Dosso’s Gollé Municipality. She likes school and is doing well in class - she even has the best average in her class. Things might not have turned out like this for Fadi.


Baki is a student from Fadi’s village. He is 12 and lives with his parents and siblings. He goes to primary school in his village. His father is a farmer, and his mother a housewife who actively participated in the activities of Plan International’s project against child marriage. As for Baki, as Prime Minister of his School’s Government, he was actively involved in advocacy activities for the prevention of child marriage.

When she was in sixth grade, Fadi was attending school in the capital of the municipality, Gollé, where she lived with her grandmother. Her biggest wish was to succeed in school and have a career. During the summer holidays, Fadi would return to her village to see her parents. In 2014, during the holidays, Fadi noticed a man who visited her parents quite often. She thought he was simply visiting her father, who had just returned from a trip. 

Until one day, she overheard her parents talking about a marriage. Intrigued, she wanted to understand what it was about. To her surprise, Fadi realised that her parents were actually talking about marrying her to the stranger who often visited them.

This man, who Fadi did not know and had never even talked to. Nobody tried to inform her about the situation. Later, Fadi found out that the whole village knew about her wedding. The only person who did not know, was her. 
 

Children fighting against child marriage

Thanks to Plan International’s activities in the village, when 12-year-old Baki heard about the marriage organised for Fadi, he immediately informed the principal of his school. In turn, he decided to speak with Fadi’s school principal. Together, the principals went to speak with Fadi’s father in order to convince him to give up on the wedding.

Thanks to Baki’s quick reaction, made possible by trainings and awareness sessions organised as part of Plan International’s project against early and forced marriage in Dosso, they were able to convince Fadi’s parents to stop the wedding.

I’d like to become an ambassador for the fight against child marriage

Baki is happy with the outcome. “The project helped me understand that I can help my classmates in difficulty and especially girls,” he says. “I’d like to become an ambassador for the fight against child marriage.”

Today, Fadi would like to educate her peers about the importance of girls’ education and the dangers of child marriage. In order to achieve this, Fadi knows that her only choice is to study as much as she can to continue to be the first in class and prove to her parents that they were right to allow her to continue her studies instead of being trapped in a forced marriage.

“My dream is to become a teacher and prove to my parents that the most important thing for a girl is education,” she says determinedly.

For more information about Plan International's work in Niger go to plan-international.org/niger.

For more information about the work of the European Commission's International Cooperation and Development Directorate General, please click here.