From child bride to award winning activist
7 years ago, 11 year old Nada Al-Ahdal had made a decision that would soon change her entire life. Living in a small town in Yemen, Nada had just received the news from her parents that she is to be married off. These weren’t news that Nada took lightly. She had recently witnessed her aunt commit suicide after being married as a child. She has also witnessed her sister attempt to commit suicide the same way when her parents wanted to marry her off.
Brave young Nada decided to run away from her parents to her uncle. In doing so, she also posted a video on youtube that then went viral. Nada’s story was everywhere. Since then, she has used her experience to help girls like her. Nada has founded an organization called Nada Foundation, which works in different projects that empower Yemeni young girls.
With and For Girls collective award
For all her efforts, Nada received an award from “With and For Girls collective” which is given to organizations that showcase the resilience, brilliance and enthusiasm of girl-led transformational change.
In partnership with the Women of the World: WOW Festival, the With and For Girls collective hosted the award ceremony on March 6th in London, UK, which brought together 30 grassroots organizations from 23 countries, a range of foundations, funders, bilateral and multilateral agencies, press and prominent influencers and individuals from the sector.
In a speech just before the awards ceremony, Nada spoke about funding challenges; especially for organizations that work for women and girls as they are considered a source of shame and are often controlled by men. She thanked all institutions and organizations who played a role in supporting her and her foundation, emphasizing that more donor organizations should focus more on empowering girls to get their full rights and complete education.
Nada Foundation for the Protection of Girls in Yemen is working to achieve justice and equality for girls, especially for matters related to child marriage and gender- based violence. The Foundation implemented the Children of War Ambassadors of Peace project, to raise awareness about the importance of children’s and girls’ rights. It also has the Safe Havens project, which has welcomed more than 60 girls who have escaped early marriage and domestic violence. They provide good care, protection, and many girls receive education in private schools. Furthermore, the Dreams Come True project teaches girls the English language. The organization has reached 600 girls, and the project continues to grow.
This article is also available in Arabic.