HEART STORY

Abolishing forced marriage

In some communities in Ethiopia where the Costa Foundation has built high schools, the practice of forced marriage for young girls has been going on for almost 700 years. This can mean that as soon as a girl reaches puberty she is considered ‘ready’ for marriage, often to an older man in a nearby village.

Through the power of education and, in particular, the extra curricula lessons on gender equality that are practiced in all of our Ethiopian schools, the tradition of forced marriage has been completely abolished in two of our communities.

Meeting the Elders of the tribes at Asome of our schools, the trustees were truly impressed with how these communities had changed this ancient practice within a four year period. This really does verify the importance of education for young girls in rural Ethiopia.

One of our key initiatives involves the establishment of Girls’ Clubs. These are self-funding clubs which enable girls in communities with a history of early marriage, lack of education, unfair division of household chores and child-rearing responsibilities, to be supported in their education, their lives, their health and their futures.

They’re not just for girls either. Boys are encouraged to attend so that they can learn about the issues girls face and they find out how they can help and become a force for change in their community’s future.

I followed my sister’s footsteps, quitting education to get married. Now, thanks to Girls Club and their encouragement, I’m back in education.

Samara Jibril, Gore Bantu School