Thousands of young girls wrote passionate letters declaring their right to stay in school and out of child marriage to commemorate National Girl Child Day in Bangladesh this year. The Youth Summit and Letter Festival – organized by Women and Girls Lead Global, National Girl Child Advocacy Forum and Youth Ending Hunger-Naogaon – called on girls to write open letters to their parents, telling them why they didn’t want to marry young. Over 3,000 girls from 53 different schools in Bangladesh participated, sharing their desire for freedom and their disappointment that the law banning child marriage for girls under 16 is not being consistently upheld.
The letters were displayed on colorful banners at the festival, held in the Patnitala district in northwest Bangladesh. Thousands of people from surrounding communities flocked to the festival to read them, and to select 20 winning letters.
“Father, I always wanted to do something special for my family, relatives and of course for my country. To do so, I have to continue my education and earn a good result. I want to work hard to be an independent woman. Baba, you know if I fail to complete my education, I will never be able to fulfill my dream. Please let me complete my education first and then make the decision of marrying me off. I want to prove to myself that I am capable of getting a respectable job and serve my country as a good citizen. I need your blessings.”
– Aasia Khatun, 10th grade, Patnitala high school
Issues: Girls’ education, child marriage, youth activism