Restore Women’s Rights Over Their Bodies

Target: Burkina Faso Prime Minister Paul Kaba Thieba

Goal: Teach women and girls in Burkina Faso about their rights over their own bodies and contraception.

Young girls in Burkina Faso are often subject to arranged marriage — sometimes to men who are decades older than they are. They are expected to drop out of school to become wives and mothers at an extremely young age and with a limited knowledge of sex, pregnancy and contraception. Access to contraception is difficult and expensive. Men sometimes believe that birth control pills bring diseases and forbid their wives from taking them, while threatening physical abuse. In some cases, girls do not know that unprotected sex leads to pregnancy, and over 2,000 women die in childbirth each year.

Although Burkina Faso’s constitution protects gender equality, the government must take a stronger stance to protect its women and girls. By allowing forced marriages and not providing basic reproductive education, authorities are giving these women and girls no authority over their own bodies and are leaving important personal choices to their family members and husbands.

The lack of education about child marriages and contraception is harming women and girls throughout Burkina Faso. This severely undermines the role of women in society, their education and is a violation of international human rights. Please urge Burkina Faso Prime Minister Paul Thieba to stand up and advocate for women’s rights and education.


Dear Prime Minister Thieba,

Burkina Faso’s constitution and law must do more to protect women and girls.

Forced child marriages are a violation of international human rights, although girls in Burkina Faso are severely at risk of becoming young brides. Families broker arranged marriages, often with far older men, forcing a girl to marry, abandon her education and become a mother.

Some of these girls do not understand their rights over their own bodies or that contraception can prevent unwanted pregnancy. Access to contraception is exceedingly difficult and costly, and the lack of reproductive education endangers these women and girls. Husbands can bar a woman from using contraception, mistakenly thinking that birth control pills cause illness, and will threaten violence if she uses it. Some women must hide their prescriptions out of fear.

Women deserve a choice when it comes to education, marriage and reproductive health. Allowing men to make these decisions alone means that women are robbed of their fundamental human rights and the chance of a bright future. Burkina Faso must do more to prevent forced child marriage and educate men and women when it comes to reproductive health.

Please give these women and girls a voice when it comes to their marital status, education and bodies.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Daniela Robles

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