Ethiopian girls don’t have it easy. Even though early marriage was outlawed in Ethiopia in 2005 (the legal age is 18), in the rural villages and remote areas of the country the centuries-old tradition is still being practiced. It’s difficult for the local authorities to stop these marriages unless they hear about them beforehand. Parents and village elders who arrange early marriages can now go to jail for up to 10 years if they are “caught,” but this doesn’t seem to stop them from arranging them.

Nationwide, 62% of Ethiopian women aged 20-49 were married before their 18th birthdays. In the Amhara region of Ethiopia (in the northeastern part of the country), 50% of girls are married by age 15, sometimes as young as 10 or 12 years old. Yet, despite this, Ethiopian girls still manage to smile and dream. Through these smiles, we saw a quiet strength, as they shared with us some of their desires and hopes for their futures.

Check out this new slideshow of quotes from some of the girls we met along with 10x10 partner World Vision.

Which quote sticks with you?