This is 15-year-old Nurul (pictured with her dad), who on 11 October will travel to the United Nations in New York as a Plan Girl Ambassador to take part in activities based around the global launch of Plan’s Because I am a Girl campaign. Nurul from Indonesia is 1 of 6 girls from around the world chosen by Plan for their commitment to tackling child marriage where they live. Having learnt about how early marriage impacted the life of her mother, who married at 15, Nurul raises awareness of girls’ rights with her friends through school clubs and the local youth group.
This is a speech Nurul gave during the selection process to become Girl Ambassador:
In the old days girls got married at an early age due to myths and fear. My mother got married at 15. Her parents feared that if my mum did not get married at 15, she would have a hard life… My mum was forced to get married because it was sinful for her to say no to what the parents wanted. My mum regretted getting married so young. Why? Because she did not get the opportunity to play and study at school.
However, in her days many children of her age were married and she had to obey social pressure. Even though my mum did not regret marrying my father and having kids like me and my sister, my mum told me that she found it very difficult to survive and live their marriage.
Getting married young, according to my mother, left her and my father unprepared to deal with household economic problems. Maybe it was because my mother did not have other skills. She did not even graduate from junior high school.
So my parents prepare me for higher education now. Even though we are from a low-income family, my father says that cannot stop me from dreaming of higher education. That’s why I have to be smart and get a scholarship. If my mother was already married at my age, now look at me: I am still at school and do many activities.
Compared with today’s trends, it has changed a lot. There are no more myths like in my mum’s days. However, technological advances mean me and my friends are on alert. Through the Internet, we can access porn movies that tempt us… Many of my friends go on dates, get pregnant and get married young. Many are forced to get married due to their family’s economic needs.
I really object to child marriage. I want children to have their education rights. So far, I haven’t done much for this. I only campaign around the neighborhood up to the district level and through media, as supported by Plan. I want to participate at a higher level — national and international. Being a BIAAG Girl Ambassador will be pivotal for me as I will campaign to the world for a culture of being ashamed of getting married young so that girls my age can get their rights for higher education and feel ashamed if they get married young without a bright future.
What would the world say?