Saved from early marriage
and now back in school

Schoolgirl Aminata from the Centre-North region of Burkina Faso was forced into marriage during the school holidays, she was saved from early marriage and she is now back in school

Schoolgirl Aminata from the Centre-North region of Burkina Faso was forced into marriage during the school holidays. Plan International, the local social affairs ministry and police retrieved her and brought her back to the accommodation centre where she has been living for three years.

A few days after her return, she was kidnapped by her new husband and his family. Again, Plan International stepped in to rescue her, this time with the support of the Regional Governor to make it clear to the family that child marriage is against the law. Aminata is now back in school, and dreams of becoming a lawyer one day.

Aminata’s case is just one of thousands in Burkina Faso, leading us to focus our influencing objectives on girls’ education and eliminating harmful practices. According to a UNICEF survey conducted in 2013, 52% of women in Burkina were married by 18 and 10% by 15.

We aim to raise the national secondary school completion rates for girls, from under 20% in 2015 to 35 % by 2020. This is in line with Global Goal 4 on ensuring inclusive, quality education for all. Our objective, aligned with Global Goal 5.5 on harmful practices, is to reduce gender-based violence issues including female genital mutilation, child marriage and early pregnancies by 25% by 2020 in the areas where we work.

In line with the government’s five year priority of access to education for all, our second education objective tallies with the national government objective of reducing social and gender inequality.

Plan International Burkina Faso has made girls’ education its priority, bringing to light the various barriers to girls’ education and generating support among the communities where we work.

One of our main influencing achievements is a project for the Millennium Challenge Corporation. With a consortium of NGOs, Plan International has built 132 school complexes, raised community awareness and enabled thousands of girls to go to school.

Often left behind at home while their brothers attend school, girls face increased risks of child marriage, early pregnancy and violence. To address this, we have developed a project to give out-of-school girls vocational training. The initiative, which started in 2012, has trained 3,163 girls who faced obstacles with their education.

We have also built four girls’ accommodation centres, which provides 429 adolescent school girls like Aminata with accommodation and education. In these centres, we seek to give girls the opportunity to develop their potential and change the course of their lives. Aminata says:

I feel safe now. No one will try to force me to leave school and get a husband now. If I see one of my friends being sent away to get married, I know exactly how to save her, just like me.