Talking about girls rights over lunch with the Queen

May 17, 2015 by

17-year-old Tania Akhter was preparing for her final year college exams when life had a pleasant surprise to offer. A member of BRAC’s adolescent club, she was quickly acknowledged for her leadership skills. Tania joined the club when she was in class 6, and since then coordinators have kept an eye on her development. Tania also received training on livelihood skills as part of the club’s activities.


However, one day, like scores of adolescent girls in Bangladesh, Tania came face-to-face with a reality that threatened to overturn all that she was familiar with. Her father, unable to  support the family of six single-handedly, decided to marry her off, as the eldest of four children,  when she was only in class 9. It was in Tania’s  nature to revolt. She took it upon herself to persuade her parents into changing their decision. She was lucky enough to get the support of some of her teachers and local BRAC staff, who intervened at the nick of time.

Her parents gave in alright, but her father made it clear that he will no longer support her education and that she was on her own. Tania wasn’t disheartened at all. The grooming sessions at the club gave her enough confidence to start tutoring local kids and take care of her own expenses. A couple of years later, when her  younger sister was about to face the same fate of early marriage, she duly intervened and began financial supporting her as well.

Over the years, Tania has been able to gain the trust of her parents. She says, “My father now tells me that he is proud that I am earning for myself, and after he retires, he would enjoy being taken care of by his daughter, before I actually decide to get married”.

Tania rose to become a peer leader at her club, and was selected to receive an intensive training on ICT and English that BRAC offers its club members. This January, BRAC was invited to attend the Prince Mahidol Award Conference 2015 in Thailand, and was asked to arrange for an adolescent girl who would be one of the keynote speakers at the main event. For a fair selection, the girls who were attending the ICT and English workshop from all over Bangladesh were screened and Tania was an easy choice.

Tania spoke in front of global leaders in health, as an advocate of adolescents around the world who are forced into early marriage. The video below is a reflection of the amazing journey Tania undertook. She shares her visions with the world and we hope one day, they will come true.


Sumaiya Haque is a deputy manager at BRAC Communications. 

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