"I came from a place where children would get married with dolls in their hands."

For the next few weeks I'll be sharing the stories of girls and women who shared their stories with me and hundreds of others while at the Women in the World Conference: London. I was fortunate enough to attend as a guest of Dove who sponsored the event as well as hosted a mentoring lunch, bringing girls and mentors from all over the world together to share, listen, and inspire one another to go forth. I was able to meet and interact with incredible women and girls while at the conference and was especially floored by Afghan rapper and activist, Sonita Alizadeh who shared her story and her song while on the conference stage. 

From PRI:

Sonita grew up in Tehran, Iran’s capital city. Her family fled Afghanistan when she was 8 years old because of war. She found a non-profit that taught undocumented Afghan kids. There she learned karate, photography, guitar, and she started singing and rapping.

Her music quickly got recognition. Sonita met an Iranian director who helped her polish up her style and make music videos, and that led to a few awards. Everything was perfect. Until it wasn’t. “One day my mom told me, ‘You have to return to Afghanistan with me. There’s a man there who wants to marry you. Your brother’s engaged and we need your dowry money to pay for his wedding.’”

Sonita was devastated. So she wrote the song "Brides for Sale." The song starts “Let me whisper, so no one hears that I speak of selling girls. My voice shouldn’t be heard since it’s against Sharia. Women must remain silent… this is our tradition.”

A few weeks after the video went viral, Sonita was contacted by The Strongheart Group who she has since partnered with. Their goal is to build an international campaign to raise awareness about child marriage for the purpose of affecting legislation and public funding. Sonita was also given a visa as well as a full scholarship to a high school in Utah where she now attends.