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Statement on the Tragic Death of 16-year-old Nazira in Niger

We learned, with great sadness, the news of the death of Nazira, a 16-year-old girl in Zinder, Niger. Nazira died by suicide after being forced into marriage; a marriage that she did not want… and one that has now come at the cost of her precious life.  

At the Girls First Fund, we stand in solidarity with the collective of girl-led and young women-led organizations, including our partners in Niger, as they raise their voices to demand accountability and justice for Nazira.  

We join their call for the government of Niger to fulfil its responsibilities to protect the rights and welfare of children in the country, in line with its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child. We support their calls for the government to ratify the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, as well as the revision of existing domestic legislation to ensure protection for all children, especially girls.  

Nazira’s tragic death is yet another reminder of the urgent need to accelerate our individual and collective efforts to stop the practice of child marriage and ensure that all girls are protected from this harmful practice. This requires intentional actions to address the root causes of child marriage and shift the social norms that facilitate its continued practice.  

We reaffirm our commitment to continue supporting community-based organizations as they work with governments, parents, community leaders and girls themselves to raise awareness, facilitate access to education, support skills development and promote girls’ agency and leadership in their communities. We strongly believe that the change they are leading will create communities where girls are safe and can pursue their wildest dreams without the threat of child marriage and other harmful practices. Communities where girls like Nazira will no longer resort to such tragic means to access the freedom they seek.  

We extend our deepest condolences to all who knew and loved Nazira, and to our partners in Niger who are dealing with this tragic news even as they continue to do the work.  

Rest in power, Nazira. Through our work, we will honor your resistance.