Young girl saved from pre-arranged marriage in Ethiopia

An evidence story by Ashenafi Astatike, executive director, ACISDA

As evaluators it is sometimes easy to lose sight of the end result of our work, and how evaluations with sound and implementable recommendations result in outcomes that lead to better lives. This evidence story was supplied to us by Ashenafi Astatike, the Executive Director of ACISDA. It details the story of Assiya, who’s pre-arranged marriage was cancelled with the support from the Dewe Woreda Women & Children Affair Office. Astatike believes that beneficiary success stories such as Assiya’s round off the evidence base.  

Assiya is a 17-year-old 8th grade student from the Dewe district also known as woreda in the Afar region, on the eastern escarpment of the Ethiopian lowlands.

When Assiya finishes 10th grade, she would like to become a doctor or a nurse.

However, this dream was under threat when her father wanted to force her into the traditional practice of early pre-arranged marriage, known in the Afar region as Absuma.

Assiya’s mother, Momina, supported her plans to study and not to marry young, and fortunately, with the help of the Dewe Woreda Women & Children Affair Office, Assiya’s wedding was cancelled.

Assiya’s mother has participated in a training workshop, supported and facilitated by a group of trained women who cascaded their learning at community level.

The topics covered during the conducted cascade training included women rights, gender-based violence (GBV), and the health implications of practices that are considered Harmful to Women and Girls (HTP).

Assiya’s mother also attained the dissemination and announcement meeting on the developed and endorsed local legislation and law related to GBV and HTP practices.

 

The dissemination meeting was organized and conducted by a joint collaboration comprising Dewe Woreda Women & Children Affair Office and Afar Community Initiative Sustainable Development Association (ACISDA) as the co-implementing partner.

As a result of the training, Momima completely changed her attitude and understanding of GBV and HTP practices and were highly opposed to Assiya’s wedding.

The training helped her to broaden her awareness about the importance of girls’ education, the psychological and health implications of child marriage, and the importance of women’s rights

Assiya and her mother reported to Ms Assema Mohamed Bodaya, the head of the Dewe Woreda Women and Children Affair Office head, about the pre-arranged marriage and Ms Bodaya called on the Dewe Woreda police to stop Assiya’s marriage ceremony.

A police official cancelled the ceremony and Assiya is now continuing her education.

The Dewe Woreda Women and Children Affair Office sanctioned the local legislation that was organized and facilitated by ACISDA and included Assiya’s mother’s strong support.

Assiya believes that strongly enforced local legislation is instrumental in combating early marriage

She thanked both ACISDA and the Dewe Woreda Women & Children Affair Office who organized the sanctioned local legislation.

Without it, her dream to study may have never been realized…

According to Ashenafi Astatike, ACISDA has been involved in a mid-term and impact evaluation during the project. He believes that “the evidence-based project evaluation cannot only be measured by the project impact survey. It also requires the sharing of success stories and beneficiary feedback” such as the story of Assiya.

The Civil Society Support Programme Phase Two (CSSP2) is funded by the people of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden and Norway. The Programme is managed by the British Council, in consortium with PACT UK and Social Development Direct.

Evidence-based project evaluation cannot only be measured by the project impact survey. It also requires the sharing of success stories and beneficiary feedback such as the story of Assiya

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