Breaking down education barriers
This assignment has been one that has led me to a deep level of introspect. While I see so many barriers to receiving an education in other countries, here in America we should have more opportunities, less barriers.....but do we really?
The challenges I faced in my community growing up were based around my religion. The religion I belong to encourages girls to focus on married life from an early age. Once the men get back from their missions we are encouraged to marry. This leads to most girls being married by 20 or 21. I was married at 22. Many, once married, become housewives and mothers right away. Working outside the home, or continuing their education is not looked upon with favor. We are to dedicate ourselves to our husbands. Many girls that were in school, quit and never go back. While I love my God, and I love the religion in my heart, and I see that there are some women that enjoy staying home and never going further in education, this mindset hinders some girls and women from becoming perhaps the Doctors who would find cures so diseases, who knows....perhaps one of them were destined to become the first Female President but will never see this become a reality.Some may say that this is not a true barrier. Many may say that this is just a belief set that women do to themselves. "they could choose to go on if they wanted to" I've heard. But many cannot.Cultural barriers run deep.
In this culture women get married, have children, stay at home, dedicate themselves to their husbands and once this happens....they lose their own identity. When a beautiful identity is lost, feelings of inadequacy creep in. Feeling that we are not as good of a wife or as good of a mother as other women are. A lack of confidence in oneself is a huge barrier. We have no money of our own, it is all tied in to our husbands and we cannot ask for money for our own use since this would not be a "need". We have no mentors encouraging us to go further, success is considered to be gained if you stay at home and raise children, cook, and clean.
When I was married, I was still in my last year of college and decided to stay in. I got pregnant with my first child and had her in the last semester, I wanted to go on to Graduate School but could not. As I had more children, my dreams of going back to school faded away and they left bitterness in my soul that found its way out a few years ago. I lost myself, and felt so guilty for having regrets. Depression set in. I love my family and am so grateful I have beautiful gifts from God. But I regret not going further and pursuing the dreams I had. Suddenly I realized that I had to break out and find myself again no matter what anyone thought. I faced a great deal of scorn at first. Church women asking me why I would even want to go back to school, what was I thinking? Wasn't I afraid that my children would not be raised correctly without me staying at home? I hurt deeply by their comments but went forward. I realized later on that many of those comments came from a sense of curiosity and intrigue as to how they could do what I was doing.
I have 5 wonderful gifts from God. They are the reason I live. They are also what drove me to break down the religious, cultural barriers that surrounded me. I got my Student Loans since I had no stored money and I found an online school where I could get my Masters Degree. I wanted my children to see that they could be upstanding Church members while still furthering their education as far as they want to go. I want the girls to know that they do not have to be stay at home moms if they choose not to be. I want the boys to know that it is okay if their wives want to go to school and get great jobs. I want them to grow and blossom. I went to school, got my Masters in HR and my MBA, I was chosen to go to Europe for a Study Abroad session in International Business, I graduated with honors. I never dreamed it was possible. Now many of the women that once criticized me have asked me how they can do the same thing. I have signed up 3 women in online education programs including one in a high school program to get her Diploma.
Education is powerful. By getting our education, women are becoming a force for change. We have powerful, beautiful voices that are being heard in classrooms, in college magazines and other editorials. The possibilities are endless. By me helping other women to go back to school, barriers are being broken down and stripped away....Thank God!