Teresa, 17 years, Sierra Leone
Teresa is a senior secondary student from rural Sierra Leone and comes from a family where early & forced marriages have taken place over generations:
“My grandmother and mother did not go to school, got married before they were 15 and were not involved in the decision about her marriage. My grandmother had 10 children, my mother 8, they were not involved in the decision of how many children they had.”
However, Teresa has different aspirations for her own future and that of future generations:
“I do go to school, I want to be part of the decision of who and I marry and when, I will decide how many children I will have…. If I have daughters, they will go to school and have an equal place within the family. As adults they will take care of her children so that they too will enjoy their rights.”
She has been involved with Plan International’s Girls Making Media project for two years. The project engages adolescent girls from some of the most marginalised areas of Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Togo in making media that advocates against gender discrimination. Teresa has taken part in making radio shows about child pregnancy, child labour, early and forced marriage, girls’ education, domestic violence, and child sexual exploitation. Teresa is also the president of the Children Forum Network for the Northern region of Sierra Leone.
Teresa also advocates on the Child Rights Act which was passed in 2007 in Sierra Leone to comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The act is supposed to protect children, and respect their right to an education. Teresa wishes that it was better respected, and that more people knew about it, as it is something that can protect girls from early and forced marriage.