“As a child, I felt pressured to marry the man whose family had made my parents a decent offer. Part of the pressure came from the fact that child marriage had been largely normalized within my community.”

Samra Zafar, child-bride survivor, author and Plan International Canada Celebrated Ambassador

In Bangladesh, we are working across the board – with government, community groups, parents, youth and health systems – to improve sexual and reproductive health and rights of adolescent girls, as well as to advance gender equality. Through these efforts, Team Girl supporters have helped reduce the prevalence of gender-based violence and helped over 280,000 adolescent girls throughout the country, including 18-year-old Bithi.

Bithi stood out for her leadership skills and was selected to receive training to lead peer education groups that unite and educate girls on topics like health services, protection from child marriage and gender-based violence and the importance of promoting gender equality.

We invite you to read Bithi’s message below where she shares her story of empowerment and activism that was ignited with your support.

I am 18 years old and have two older sisters who were both child brides. My father is a rickshaw driver in Dhaka and my mother is a tailor and makes most of my clothes.

I was chosen to be a peer educator and trained by Plan International. I create groups of 20 girls age 14-19 and we meet monthly to talk about things ranging from what gender is, what sex is, health services, family planning, and gender-based violence including child marriage. I’ve led 3 different groups.

Bithi and a friend smile while sitting reading materials from Plan International

Bithi, on the left, reading materials from Plan International with a friend.

Bithi leads a Plan International adolescent girls education group.

I feel strongly about the issue of child marriage, and it’s very important to teach girls about the challenges. I see the girls in my groups becoming more confident and sharing what they learn with other girls and family members. The girls in my program are especially interested in gender-friendly health services.

I’ve successfully stopped two child marriages for a 14 and 15-year-old girl. Along with a community health worker, we convinced the parents to let their daughters stay in school. My father is so proud of me as he sees that I am having an impact in the community.

3 girls sit in the waiting room of a Plan International-supported clinic
Bithi gets a check-up from a health worker in a Plan International-supported clinic

Team Girl supporters have helped equip and refurbish 71 health facilities to better address the needs of adolescents and women.

Now that my parents have seen me lead the group, they realize I have good leadership skills and they have given me more freedom. Before I wasn’t allowed to leave my village, but now they let me have more mobility.

I have become more comfortable talking with my parents, especially my father. I encourage them to listen to community radio so they can also benefit from Plan International’s messages on gender equality. I’ve noticed that my father seems to engage more with my mother in family decisions. I’ve also seen changes with the boys in my community who have stopped whistling and catcalling girls as they have learned it is disrespectful in separate peer education for boys.

I am the first in my family to go to college, and I want to be a teacher. My favourite subject is science – I’m getting an A+. In my spare time I like to play cricket and grow coconut, guava and pomegranate in my garden. My whole family is happy that I’m blazing a new trail.

I didn’t even know myself before this role, now I know myself so much better! The program has taught me the importance of setting goals for myself, as a woman. My goal for the program is to have child marriage eliminated from my community.

- Bithi

3 girls sit in the waiting room of a Plan International-supported clinic


Help amplify Bithi's voice by sharing this page and don’t forget to follow our social media channels to stay up to date with the movement.

A huge THANK YOU to Team Girl supporters for helping Bithi and thousands of girls like her across Bangladesh – and around the world – realize their inner power. Together we are advancing girls’ rights and health for a more equal tomorrow.


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Project undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada.

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