Stories from change-makers in Mali

Kadidiatou Awa Maman
Youth Leader In Mali
When Kadidiatou got her first period, her grandmother told her, “You are now a woman. If you talk to a boy when you are menstruating, you will get pregnant.”
“Her words traumatized me," said Kadidiatou.

Where Kadidiatou grew up, this was the type of misinformation girls were often given about their periods. Because talking openly about menstruation was taboo.

Her personal experience led Kadidiatou to become an advocate for sexual and reproductive health rights. She started at just 15 years old, leading debates with her classmates on topics like contraception, unwanted pregnancies and harmful traditional practices.

“I decided to break the taboo,” explains Kadidiatou. “I started with my friends because I used to see them suffer during their period — either because of pain or the humiliation they experienced if they stained their clothing. Many of them did not come to school when they had their period.”

Kadidiatou has partnered with Plan International to raise awareness of sexual and reproductive health rights and build the capacity of other educators. Their approach: letting young people lead the way.

“The collaboration with Plan has been a great opening,” Kadidiatou says. “They hand over the decision-making and leadership to young people. With Plan, we conduct the process, we do it the way we want to, with young people at the forefront."
Learn more about our Gender & Youth Equality work
Girl In Mali
Even before the fighting arrived in her village, Awa went through a traumatic experience, one that far too many girls in Mali are familiar with: child marriage.
She was 13 years old when she was forced to marry a man she had never met before. She had to drop out of school and move to Senegal, where her husband lived. A year later, her in-laws sent her back to her village, because they were unhappy with how Awa didn’t follow their orders.

She escaped her marriage, but when she returned home, she realized that things weren’t the same as before. Schools had been closed down. Fear of violence had taken over.

And then the attack happened.

“When the armed men stormed my village, they demanded that any women and girls who were not married had to marry one of them,” Awa said. “I had just come out of a forced marriage and I did not want the same thing to happen again.”

Awa turned down a proposal from one of the attackers. He threatened her, saying either she had to marry him or leave the village. Awa decided to leave.

She found her way to a camp for internally displaced people, where thousands of other girls like her have sought refuge. Plan International is there too, running child-friendly safe spaces and helping girls stay healthy and educated.

Awa’s sisters joined her at the camp. She’s uncertain about her future, but wants to make sure her family stays together. “I want to set up my own business to help my sisters [and] support our family,” she says.

*Awa’s name has been changed for her protection.
Help girls like Awa
Woman in Mali
Maman is a young gender equality activist in Mali, and she’s passionate about fighting gender-based violence.
Despite the challenges that COVID-19 has created, the pandemic has only motivated Maman to step up her work. Because she knows girls are even more vulnerable to violence and exploitation during a crisis like this.

Maman was trained by Plan on online activism, so she can now use platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook to engage with other young people during the pandemic. She was also trained on COVID-19 prevention methods so she can effectively educate her peers on how to stay healthy and safe.

“Even though COVID-19 threatens us daily, I can’t stop my fight,” she explains. “It’s true that it’s not like before, but I have a duty to my peers.”
Learn more about Plan’s youth advocates

Plan International has been working to improve children’s lives in Mali since 1976.

Our work in Mali

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Office & operations

Plan Mali’s country office is in Bamako, with program offices in Baroueli, Kangaba, Kati, Kita and Timbuktu.

Technical areas

Health, Skills and Work, Education

Number of sponsored children

As of June 2022, people like you sponsor 29,921 children in Mali through Plan International.

Why sponsor with Plan?

Gender equality is a fight we must all take on together. Through sponsorship, you can change lives and create long-term impact in communities.

The full circle of Fate

When you sponsor a child through Plan, you form an incredible friendship.

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But that’s just the beginning. With Plan, you also have the unique opportunity to:

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Send them birthday gifts and cards.

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Give them special holiday presents called Little Treasures.

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Subscribe them to Plan’s educational kids’ magazine, Sunny Days.

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Arrange a visit (pending any travel restrictions), with individual travel assistance from us.

Each gift offering is safely hand-delivered by us, and given to your child with personalized cards from you. It’s likely that the child you sponsor will have never seen anything like these gifts, and with the exception of Little Treasures they’re available year-round to make the bond between you and your sponsored child even stronger.

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