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Standing by her word

19 October 2017, Impact of Our Work

Communications Specialist Jill Farrar visited Save the Children's child and maternal health program in North Gondar, Ethiopia, in 2014 and again in 2017. She was moved by the power of words to change lives and create hope.

At age 14, Tadila told her mother and father she wouldn't marry the man they’d chosen for her. Today, at 18, she’s finished high school and wants to be a nurse. I first met Tadila a few months after she called off the marriage. When I went back to Ethiopia this year, I was so pleased to see she’d kept her promise – to herself.

Much of the strength and knowledge Tadila needed to make this momentous decision at 14 came from words. Words that reached her on the radio as part of Save the Children’s Radio Listening Program in northern Ethiopia.

The Radio Listening Program is a series of radio shows designed to amplify the voices of women and children, raise awareness about early marriage and other harmful traditional practices, and increase the number of women and children accessing healthcare.

Listeners of the program learn that marrying and having babies too young increases a girl’s risk of fistula – a painful and debilitating condition caused by childbirth – and leaves them without opportunities or an education.

This knowledge, supported through our work with community leaders and schools, gives girls the confidence to talk to their parents about marriage, or find support among their peers and community to change their fate.

In four years, the program has established 195 listening groups, with programs specifically designed for children, women, men and people with disabilities. In that time, more than 1,600 child marriages have been cancelled, because knowledge does create power for change.

Learn more about other ways we are combating child marriage around the world.

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