Your wedding day is supposed to be one of the best days of your life. The big day is something that many people dream about when younger. But it is also something that an estimated 1 in 3 girls take part in before they turn 18.
Nimi Zavery, a 16 year-old GCSE English student from Leicester, England, wrote the poem above about forced marriage after being asked to focus on a violation of human rights for a young writers’ poetry competition. Her research led her to discover the work of Plan UK, a branch of the global children’s charity Plan International, and their ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign.
The campaign aims to end violence against women and girls in the developing world by providing access to education and the opportunity to gain new skills and training. Another primary focus of Plan UK’s work is to prevent female genital mutilation and forced marriage.
It is estimated that 1 in 3 girls in the developing world are married by their 18th birthday. This can often put them at greater risk of isolation and violence, and frequently ends their chance to gain a complete education. Moreover, some girls are married as young as five years old, and approximately 70,000 girls die in labour every year because their bodies aren’t ready for childbirth.
These issues are at the core of Nimi’s poem, which has been published online by Plan UK. When speaking about the subject of her poem, she said: “I feel shocked that this actually goes on, it makes me realise how lucky and fortunate I am. It makes me feel so sad to think these girls are having their youth and their choices taken away from them.”
“I think Plan’s campaigns are important because they open people’s eyes, like they did mine, to what young girls are put through, and make them consider how they would feel and encourage them to take responsibility and to take action.”
For more information about Plan UK’s ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign, see: www.plan-uk.org/because-i-am-a-girl/about-because-i-am-a-girl/