I know a girl named Kidan from Ethiopia. Like so many girls around the world, she has dreams and aspirations.  She wants to be a doctor one day. But Kidan is at a crossroads; there is a key obstacle standing in her way. Do you know what that is? Watch her story to find out:

Unfortunately, stories like Kidan’s are far too common in developing countries. Kidan won’t ever have the opportunity to be a doctor—her future has already been determined for her.  Her fate has been sealed by a promise to be married at 13 years old.

Child marriage occurs in developing countries for a variety of complex and interconnected reasons, often caused by poverty. Because of gender inequality, we know that girls often don’t have the power to make decisions about their own future, so the practice continues.

The risks that face girls who are married before their 18th birthday are very real. Child brides are more likely to experience dangerous complications in pregnancy and childbirth, become infected with HIV/AIDS and suffer domestic violence. With little access to education and economic opportunities, the cycle of poverty continues.

I have a five-year-old daughter, and I can’t imagine what life would be like for her if she were forced to marry at 10 or 12 years old. Adolescent girls—no matter where they are born—have the right to education, health and security. They have the right to just be girls and make friends. Think of all the opportunities that are lost every time a girl is forced to marry, with little or no say in the matter.

It’s time to do something about this issue. The UN Foundation’s Girl Up campaign is mobilizing 500,000 girls to say I DO take a stand against child marriage. Will you join us?

Together we can end child marriage. The first step is joining the Girl Up movement. Educate yourself by reading more about child marriage, and continue to check the Girl Up blog to read the rest of the child marriage blog series.

Because while we are strong, together we are stronger.  And together, our voices will change the world.