Early marriage is still an issue in Bangladesh, imposing severe consequences on many young girls’ life. From the moment of marriage, the early married girls are isolated from family and social support. They have limited access to information and sexual and reproductive health services. Sabina is now seventeen years old and already a mother of two. She got married when she was only nine. Despites her personal experience, she is now a Changemaker in her community to help other young girls have a brighter future.
Born into a family consist of ten members, Sabina was one of the daughters who married early. When she was nine, she was married to an eighteen-year-old truck driver assistant. At nine, she barely understood her role in becoming a wife. She moved to live with her husband’s family who at first prevented her from continuing her education. However, after seeing Sabina’s persistence and determination to go back to school, her family-in-law finally agreed.
Three years after the marriage, Sabina became pregnant with her first child. No matter how difficult it was, she did not postpone her studying. Only a year and a half later, she became pregnant again. Unfortunately, she gave birth to a second child who was an underweight and malnourished child.
Her husband and mother-in-law were pleased with Sabina for bearing children to the family. They helped Sabina a lot by taking care of her children while she has to do household works and study at the same time. Sabina continued her education and passed the School Final Examination with GPA 4.3 out of 5.
Seeing the high demand of support to early married girls in Bangladesh, Terre des Hommes Netherlands works with local partners to implement a project called ‘Initiative for Married Adolescent Girls Empowerment’ or ‘IMAGE’. In 2015, Sabina was enlisted in the project to receive orientation and trainings on sexual and reproductive health rights. She also convinced her husband to participate in the project’s Spouse Forum.
The trainings provided to many young girls like Sabina include life skills, gender equality, active citizenship, leadership and important information on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Given her personal life experience and positive personality, Sabina is interested to help other early married girls. Therefore, she was nominated as a Changemaker for IMAGE project. Now she is working closely with the project representing in her own community.
Sabina is one of the most confident Changemakers of IMAGE project. In September 2016, she had an opportunity to join a meeting with Dutch Minister for Trade and Development Cooperation in Bangladesh. “I feel so much better about my life right now. I even had a chance to meet the Dutch Minister in this meeting,” Sabina said, “this is my first time in life to come to Dhaka. I feel so excited!”
On September 30th, 2016, to celebrate National Girl Child Day in Bangladesh, Sabina delivered a powerful speech in front of government officials and civil society organizations.
It does not matter whether the IMAGE project will be there or not. I will continue working for my community and bring change in the lives of girls because I am a Changemaker.