Rozina is a 19-year-old activist who works with Plan International to promote gender equality in Bangladesh. Through her part-time job as a tutor, she’s inspiring other girls to stay in school and take on leadership opportunities. Here’s her story, in her own words.
“I may look frail and small, but I have big dreams. I know what I want. When I was 17, I stopped my own marriage. I am from a poor family. I knew I needed to stay in school and get a good education.
I was an active member of my local youth forum and joined weekly sessions where we discussed and learned about the negative effects of child marriage. I knew that child marriage was illegal. During the sessions, we also learned about changes that happen to our bodies as we enter our adolescent years. These sessions built my confidence and helped me to grow my voice.
Parents sometimes neglect their daughters. Some want to marry them off to get rid of the burden of having a girl. Some even take their daughters away from the village to a distant relative’s home to arrange a wedding. That discourages me at times. Then again, some are continuing to send their daughters to school, so we are not giving up that easily.
I am 19 now and about to finish high school. I have been paying for my education from money I earn tutoring. I teach 10 students who live in my village. They are all from poor families like mine. Sometimes their parents cannot pay me or pay me less. But that is okay. I understand.
I love tutoring, supporting girls like me, so that they do well at school and are confident. But I don’t only stick to school subjects — I tell them what to expect when they start bleeding, and that this is normal. Parents are often embarrassed, and don’t tell their daughters much about sexual and reproductive health.
Girls often don’t know that they have rights. When I told them that I had called the government hotline and prevented five child marriages, they were amazed. They realized that they too could be braver and have power.”