Meet Rachida, a youth activist from Niger
Now 25, she is secretary of the Nigerien Advisory Platform for Children and Youth, which was established with the support of Plan International, and is using her position to advocate against child marriage.
“During commemorations of the Day of the African Child and other occasions dedicated to children, I used to deliver poems and speeches,” she says. “Other children, particularly girls, were very shy, but I had so much to say about the situation of children and girls in our community that nothing could stop me from speaking.”
Rachida is now in her third year on her path for a law degree and is one of the few girls in her community to further their education to this level. With a strongly held belief that all girls should be able to access higher education, she is committed to standing up for the rights of girls and tackling the issue of girls’ education, a link to child marriage.
Niger has the highest prevalence rate of child marriage in the world with 76 percent of girls married before their 18th birthday and 28 percent married before the age of 15.
In her spare time, Rachida volunteers for various humanitarian organizations and the Scout movement in Niger. She was able to develop her skills in leadership and public speaking, so when she heard about the Nigerien Advisory Platform for Children and Youth, she was excited to join.
“This platform is a space that gives children a voice,” she said. “It offers them an opportunity to grow and become better citizens. It teaches them about their rights and how to defend themselves against violence and child marriage.”
Thanks to her overwhelming energy, Rachida was asked to take on the role of Permanent Secretary of the group.
“I am more committed to fighting for the rights of children and girls,” she says. “My new position is just a perfect fit.”
Rachida has thrown herself into her new job with great enthusiasm. Having received training in leadership, advocacy, and life skills from Plan International, she has become well-versed on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
While Rachida is pleased about her success so far, she is aware that there is still a great deal left to be done.
“It is possible to put an end to child marriage in Niger, but there are a lot of hard nuts to crack,” she said. “But with patience and efficiency, we shall get there.”