Our Budget My Body My Choice
Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize.
- Chimamanda Adichie –
Many a time I have always wondered aloud silently about where my life is headed. A decade ago I was a young teen mother with no dreams whatsoever of reaching my potential and even the change that I see around. Tubal ligation was the only way out for me and it took a very elderly nurse at Marie Stopes Clinic in Nairobi to dissuade me from taking that crucial step at a stage in my life where many SRHR Advocates would term as “Child Bearing Age”
Yesterday I turned 30 years old amid a series of workload and programme activities that had been long overdue. My joy is that I was able to empower and share knowledgeable transferrable skills with over 30 participants from Lwala Community in North Kamagambo where am currently stationed. At 30 Years, Edith empowered 30 community members with budgeting and customer care skills. What I learned from my “Customers/ Students” as they actively participated in the training and challenged each other at plenary sessions made me realize entrepreneur skills still influence our social lives especially rural women in budgetary decision making processes.
I am still a single mother at 30, yes I brood enough times as to when I will be able to add another child in my nest. African society literally looks down upon an unmarried mother who at the same time continues to bear children with different men. Aren’t the choices I make in life mine? As a woman am I not motherly enough to have another child just because am husbandless? I have been in the dating scene for a while now and unfortunately I tend just not to find that right man that can be involved in raising a child wholly in an enabling environment that can provide a haven of a “normal family” as society dictates. Am at crossroads as to whether I shall achieve my goal of having a baby come late 2013.
My budgetary processes are quite clear in relation to my basic needs. I get to pay bills in time , save as I desire, pay debts that I have incurred in due course, join investment clubs as well as buy that which I fancy without being limited by another person. Unlike the rural un empowered and vulnerable woman who is given pocket change by a drunkard husband to feed a dozen children and himself in the next thirty days of a month. This woman is literally raped in her matrimonial bed since she was paid for “Bride Price/ Dowry” hence copulation is no longer a sweet thing but a burden with terms and conditions of not getting pregnant. Is this really fair? How can a vulnerable woman be denied to utilize family planning methods easily accessible to her from the local health centre say she is exercising her Sexual Reproductive Health Rights?
Indeed, sexual well-being is integral to human development, underpinning all the major health and development goals. As rates of HIV infection continue to rise, and women’s and men's sexual and reproductive ill-health threatens international development targets, there has never been a more pressing need to make positive connections between sexuality, health and human rights.
Close your eyes and spend some time thinking about some of the stereotypical conclusions experienced in your life, community and those close to you and then set out to learn more about them. Help them make a very conclusive positive change that will propel their lives to the next level.
Let you and I be the voice of this woman that has not been involved at household level to participate in budgetary processes. Share ideas and pointers on how we can break this cycle of impunity imposed on women by their dearly beloved ones.