Two years ago, 16-year-old Salia Shemsu waited to be married off. Like many young girls in Ethiopia, it was only a matter of time before she would need to leave her family for a husband. Then an opportunity she never expected arrived. A local announcement called for young people to join an entrepreneurship programme. Salia responded immediately. Salia’s district is among 30 in Ethiopia where a joint UNFPA-UNICEF programme is now empowering vulnerable adolescent girls and boys to support themselves and make healthy decisions – by providing them with the knowledge and skills to do so.
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Mariéme Jamme, who received no education until she was 16, is now a technology entrepreneur with a mission to train young women. Mariéme is one of 16 World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders (YGLs) on a visit to Kakuma, and the Kalobeyei settlement in north-western Kenya, to meet refugees and host communities.
"It's a crime. It's like wiping a person away because you take everything away from them." (KII - Women's Rights Advocate, Kandahar) Child marriage in Afghanistan persists at rates that suggest at least one in three young girls will be married before they turn 18.
Fatimata, 12, had a narrow escape after resisting an arranged marriage, but her case reflects a wider problem among Malian refugees in Mauritania.