Ending Early Marriage Begins with Me!

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Diariatou Diallo, lauréate du concours Blog4Dev en Guinée Diariatou Diallo, lauréate du concours Blog4Dev en Guinée

Although early marriage is a deeply rooted problem in Guinea, it can be overcome. 

My name is Diariatou Diallo and I am 22 years old. In theory, I am old enough to get married. In the meantime, I remain a young single girl with no children, in my fifth year of medical school at the Gamal Abdel Nasser University of Conakry. 

I am brimming with energy, my eyes are aglow like a star cluster, and my head is filled with dreams. I am preparing for a career as a physician; a professional path that I hope will be personally rewarding and useful to my relatives, community, and country. 

The reality is that I am very lucky. Lucky to have been born and raised in a family with liberal views, to have very loving parents who are providing me with the necessary life skills: education and confidence. I have hobbies and the freedom to choose. I thrive in my family circle. Unfortunately, however, this is far from being the case for hundreds or even thousands of young Guinean girls my age.  

I note with bitterness that in my country, 22% of girls get married before age 15, and more than 54%, before age 17. I tried to meet with some of these girls whose rights were violated. I have spoken to several of them. Each has her own story of suffering. Some got married to uphold tradition, while others did so because their parents had too many mouths to feed. 

Mariam is one such girl. She got married at age 14 to an old trader who could be her father. Her own father no longer had the resources to pay for her high school education and her mother, who is illiterate, thought that she was old enough to get married and that school was reserved for boys. People around her, unaware of all the consequences of this practice, were happy for her. The only opposition came from her godmother, a teacher, who decided to go to the authorities to have them talk to Mariam’s parents. However, this effort proved futile as she did not have a birth certificate to prove her real age.  

Mariam is now the mother of three children. She is a victim of domestic violence and still suffers from the terrible effects of her early pregnancies.  Her conclusion is clear: “my adolescence was stolen from me and my growth and development, hijacked. I was simply tossed into an inferno.” 

I was deeply moved by her story. I therefore decided to become involved in this issue, to raise the awareness of persons around me regarding the importance of educating young girls and the consequences of early marriage. I chose the following as my slogan: “ending early marriage begins with me!”

I have many other ideas about how to end this harmful practice, such as: 

  • Creating clubs for young girls, in addition to those that already exist, to teach them about their rights, how to assert these rights, and how to make a case to parents and elders to abolish this practice by adopting well-established strategies in a context of respect for everyone;
  • Establishing mandatory and free literacy programs to educate girls and providing them with scholarships. This could be done by the authorities with the assistance of international organizations;
  • Having the authorities take practical steps to have births registered at the time of delivery by employees tasked with this responsibility at each health center;
  • Strengthening the existing child marriage laws and enforcing them;
  • Establishing a mentoring system for young girls in areas where early marriage is widespread in order to spare them this fate, safeguard their adolescence, and allow them to grow and develop;
  • Lastly, exposure continues to be a very effective tool. In early 2019, because the photo of an underage girl who was about to get married was shared on Facebook, the marriage in a prefecture in northern Guinea was called off.


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