Nafia Garba, 18, is in her final year at Government Day Secondary School, Warrah, but she would not be if not for the intervention of ActionAid’s youth Activist – the Activistas. In her community girls were usually married off once they completed primary or junior secondary school, but Nafisa’s parents wanted her to finish her schooling first. However, her father’s elder brother disagreed and arranged for her to wed a young man in a nearby village. Nafisa was forced to drop out of school for a year selling pastries and wrappers while the arrangements were being made. When the news reached her fellow Activistas, they worked to intervene, but it wasn’t easy.

“In this community, when a girl is getting married it is not her biological father that gives her hand, it is his elder brother,” Nafisa explained. “So they had to convince him because it didn’t want it to be that my father had given his daughter in marriage and now didn’t want him to give me out.”

The group rallied members of Nafisa’s family – including her parents, her father’s younger brother and her mother’s older sister – as well as the village elders to plead her case. Eventually, her uncle relented and allowed her to stay in school. Though she is still pledged to be married, Nafia feels confident that her education will not be disrupted again.

“Even now I don’t want to marry him until I finish university and if he doesn’t want to wait, he should marry someone else,” she said.