#GirlsTakeover: Sanita’s Story

Today, on International Day of the Girl, girls all over the world are making their voices heard through #GirlsTakeover. This piece comes from Sanita, a young woman in Indonesia who is working to end child marriage.

Hi! I’m Sanita. I’m from Central Java, Indonesia. My family has five children, and I am the last one. My mother works on a farm, and my father is a construction worker. I grew up in a remote village with a strong matchmaking tradition that meant I was due to be married when I was just 13!

I told my parents: “If you stop the marriage and let me continue with my education, I will pay back all of the money that you spent on me. If you force me to marry, then nothing will come of me.” And they agreed. I am proud of my parents, who were willing to change their mindset to stop my marriage plan and support my dream of becoming a graduate.

Now I am an activist working to end child marriage with the Youth Coalition at Plan International Indonesia. Child marriage is just one of the factors in my country stopping girls from completing their education and achieving their dreams.

I love my life and sharing what I have learned with others. Here I’m in a remote village teaching children about child marriage and child protection.

I also help out at Youth Camp where I teach young girls about advocacy and the importance of getting their voices heard.

It has taken a lot of sacrifice for me to be here, to be who I am right now. I’m fully aware that not every girl has such advantage and privilege. This is something that I want to change. We all — youths, adults, schools, society and governments — share the responsibility to end child marriage. Every girl has the right to decide what her future will be.