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Making bold choices: how Latifa became an advocate against child marriage

If you walk around Gopalganj in southern Bangladesh, you might spot an adolescent girl eagerly knocking on doors. Her name is Latifa.

For the last few years, Latifa and her friends have had one mission: to teach their communities about child marriage. They go from village to village, talking to parents and elders about the consequences of child marriage and the importance of staying in school.

Latifa’s path to activism was never obvious. Her parents tried to marry her off at the age of 12, but her mother called it off at the last minute. A child bride herself, she did not want her daughter to go through what she had gone through. Her mother’s bold decision encouraged Latifa to become an activist.

In Latifa’s hometown, girls are often married before they reach their 16th birthday. Many parents in Bangladesh view child marriage as a way out of poverty and insecurity.

In reality, child marriage almost always means an end to a girl’s education and a life of repeated pregnancies, domestic chores, and exposure to domestic violence. Latifa now spends her spare time warning parents about these consequences.

In this inspiring video, Latifa boldly persuades a mother of six that she can keep her girls in school with the help of government stipends; explains to a young man the difficultly of child birth for a young girl and talks to a village elder about child marriage.

“We try and explain…because we’ve faced these problems ourselves”

Latifa is one of 5 girls profiled by Women and Girls Lead Global this International Women’s Day. Though from different corners of the world, these 5 girls are united by their courageous activism to end child marriage. Watch the other girls’ stories.