5 women take over UNICEF’s Twitter account to share powerful stories against child marriage

Their tweets mark the Day of the African Child

On June 16, 1976, hundreds of schoolchildren were fatally shot in Soweto, South Africa, while protesting their poor education system. In 1991, the Organisation of African Unity declared that every June 16 shall be “Day of the African Child.” It’s a moment for people to discuss the obstacles that African children face, and how their issues are being addressed.

This year’s Day of the African Child zeroed in on a prominent problem: child marriage. UNICEF marked the day by handing the reigns of its @UNICEF Twitter account over to five young women from Africa. They shared their inspiring personal stories of surmounting struggles and advocating to end child rights violations.

The extraordinary women, between 22 and 31 years old, hailed from Chad, Sierra Leone, Niger, Uganda, and Somalia, and each spent an hour tweeting to UNICEF’s 4.18 million followers using the hashtags #endchildmarriage and #youthtakeover. Check out the some of the most memorable highlights below.

“Jennifer,” 24-year-old former abductee from Uganda who was forced to marry at age 13

Ilwad Elman, 25-year-old who runs Somalia’s first program for victims of gender-based violence

Halima Laoual Bachir, 24-year-old from Niger who feels pressured for her build a career instead of becoming a housewife

Josephine Kamara, 22-year-old from Sierra Leone, founder of Women of Wonders Sierra Leone

Mariam Agrei Musa, 31-year-old women’s rights advocate from Chad who was forced to marry at age 16

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