When community members in Bangladesh insisted that Dola be married off at 12, her mother stepped in to protect her, choosing to keep her daughter in school instead. Inspired by her mother, Dola has been a Global Changemaker ever since, even addressing the United Nations on Day of the Girl Child in 2019. Now 18, she continues to advocate for child rights at her Youth Forum.
Q&A with Dola
lightly edited and condensed for clarity
What is your favourite food to eat?
I love to eat our traditional food. Like rice, fish curry, Khechuri etc.
What is your favourite thing to do for fun?
The funniest thing I love to do is dancing to favourite songs and doing cycling.
Who is your favourite actor/singer/dancer/influencer?
My favourite actor: Tahsan Khan.
Favourite singer: Selena Gomes.
Influencer: Barack Obama and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
What is your favourite memory from your childhood?
When I was 6, I became a sponsored child of World Vision. I used to get letters and gifts from my sponsor. The 1st day when I received a letter from my sponsor it was my best childhood memory. I still carry all the letters in my bag.
What would you tell a future Changemaker?
Some people will come to break you, and they are not gonna give you a chance to work. Just keep your mental health okay - don’t feel down. Just keep doing the work. The world needs you.
What would you say to yourself 5 years ago?
The struggle will be going on. Ups and downs will come. Just keep faith in your work and you. You are going to shine. The world needs your efforts, ideas, dedications. Don’t lose hope. How the sun gives light to the moon - you have to be the sun to give light to others.
What is the issue you advocate on and what made you decide to take on this issue?
I advocate on child marriage and child rights. As child rights are connected to all of the issues children are having. My mother really inspired me to work on this issue.
Why is ending violence against children and the issue you advocate on so important to you?
Violence is the worst thing in every child’s life. It destroys their childhood. Nobody has the right to destroy anyone’s childhood. Childhood is the most precious period of every human’s life. If a child becomes a victim of violence, it becomes a trauma for them, and they are not able to come out from it.
What would you say to leaders if you had the chance to talk to them directly?
There is no more time for conversation. We know the problem; we know the solutions. It’s high time to see action.
We have the ear of global leaders, but we want their heart and mind too, and more than anything we want to see actions. Youth have innovative ideas. We will change world. You also know it.
What is something you hope to accomplish in 1, 5, 10 years?
In my personal life I just want to be a good and kind-hearted person and want to spread my helping hands to those who are seeking help. Besides this I want to lead the policy making sector so that I could change the world.
A world where we don’t have to fight for our rights. It’s been a long time we have been working to stop child marriages or social problem issues - but it still is going on.
What challenges have you encountered in your advocacy work?
When I started receiving threats from our community peoples. And some issues when children agreed for the marriages.
Do you advocate alongside other children and young people, and how do they inspire you?
My friends really inspire me for my work. Whenever I face any challenges, they give me courage to overcome it.
What is the funniest thing that has happened during your advocacy work?
I was only 10 when I started my work. So I was just a kid and my height was also not so tall. Whenever I went to a campaign, I’d have to use a chair to stand.
If you could pick one personal memory or achievement around ending violence against children, what would it be?
When we stop any child marriage and after that we see the girl growing - that’s a big achievement for us.
Besides this, when I got invited to participate in an event in Geneva regarding child marriage and child violence. I shared my story and our work. After my speech when people appreciated our work and clapped for us it was a very big thing for me.