Say "Hello" to Fatmata

by Because I am a Girl

As a child, Fatmata left her village to live with relatives while she attended school in Freetown. However, this wasn't as simple as it seemed. While living with relatives, she was forced to maintain household duties and perform manual labor. She soon became the victim of domestic violence and often missed class. Luckily, Fatmata’s teacher noticed she was suffering and helped her return home.

Upon her return, Fatmata became involved in Plan International’s Girls Making Media project. This project engages adolescent girls from some of the most marginalized areas of Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Togo in making media that advocates against gender discrimination.

Through her work in media, Fatmata has thrived. She has spoken out on a number of issues including child marriage, child pregnancy, domestic violence, sexual violence, and street children. She moderates radio programs on her community’s radio station and has given assembly talks in her school on corporal punishment and gender-based violence in schools.

Not only does Fatmata now have the confidence, skills, and passion to inform her community on the importance of girls' and women’s participation, but she also contributes to family decisions. Her mother and siblings now look to her for advice and allow her to make her own decisions.

Fatmata shared her story, experiences, and ideas recently at the 56th session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York City. Speaking on a high-level panel to discuss child marriage, Fatmata told the large audience filled with policy-makers, ministers, journalists, MP’s, and activists: “I stand on behalf of the girls of Sierra Leone, for our rights to choose who we marry and when. Anyone who tries to enforce early marriage should be imprisoned for 15 years”.

We are looking forward to hearing Fatmata’s confident voice once again when she returns to join us in celebrating the International Day of the Girl Child on October 11, 2012.

Stay tuned for more details about Fatmata and her journey to the States.