Aberash Deriba was just 12 years old when she stood up in court and begged them to stop the marriage her mother was forcing her into.

Thankfully, the court ruled in her favour.
“I can’t imagine what my life would have been like now, had I been married. I know there are girls who struggle to pursue their education even after marriage, but that’s not easy. It becomes even more difficult when a child is born.”

Early marriage is common in rural Ethiopia, and pursued for traditional reasons or to provide perceived security and safety in the face of poverty.

Her own mother, Fanose Tesfaye, thought she was doing the right thing.

“I was divorced 12 years ago when Aberash was only a toddler. I do not have land to work on. I do not have sustainable means of income. To make it worse, my health situation has been depreciating so bad.

“I am so worried for my girls. If anything happens to me, no one would help them. I want to make sure that they are taken care of well before anything happens to me.”

Aberash had different dreams. She wanted to go to university and become a doctor.

The fight for her future started one Wednesday afternoon, when Aberash joined her school’s Girls Club. These clubs are supported by imagine1day, through our Girl Fund, and help young female students empower each other.

“Every Wednesday we gather together and girls educate us on our rights. We discuss the challenges we face as girls and share experiences of how we should respond,” says Aberash.

It was there Aberash learned that it was illegal to marry below the age of 18, and she had the right to ask the courts to stop her imminent marriage.

Aberash Deriba with her mother and siblings.

Aberash Deriba with her mother and siblings.

Today, Aberash is a top student at her school. She finished Grade 7 second in her class, and will take her final primary school examination in a few months.

“I plan to score a GPA of 94% and above,” she says with beautiful smile on her face.

Fanose still worries for her daughter’s future, but she now sees that education, not early marriage, is the best means to fight poverty. She carries that message proudly, wearing a t-shirt imagine1day handed out during our annual Education Awareness Week campaign. It reads: “Let’s express our love to our children by sending them to school”.

Support other girls throughout Ethiopia through our Girl Fund. Your donation will help us create strong Girls Clubs and empower young female leaders and communities to stand up for girls’ education.