The Girl Cause, Our Cause!
In the past in my rural community, girl’s higher education was believed to be a waste as the girl will marry and take everything she has learnt to her husband’s house and end it in the kitchen. One interesting thing within my community is that no matter how bad it is, every parent struggles to give their female children Primary and Secondary education which they believe is important to be able to write and read.
After my Secondary School education, I was told that I have to learn some handwork as going to the University will affect my getting married, it was believed that men are scared of highly educated girls. A lady in my village years back graduated as a Mechanical Engineer, got a job, built a house for her immediate family (they were a family of 8 managing one room in their Uncle’s), inspired and financially supported the brothers marriages and businesses, but in all of this, she was disrespected and called names because she was still single. I recently realized she was just about 30years of age at the time when the community wrote her off. Her case was used severally as an example for us as to why we have to get married from Secondary School, quite a number actually did. I continued my education out of stubbornness; I was looking up to a cousin of mine who is a Professors daughter, I dreamt to speak English like she does, carry myself like she does and even dress like her. I had a dream as a child and could not allow my parents or relations to kill that dream, I was labeled a rebel, but it paid off for me. I don’t know how I would’ve been doing all I do today if I have no further education.
Though they believed that women education ends in kitchen and therefore not necessary, parents suddenly started encouraging girls to continue with their University education while waiting for a husband, this encouraged quite a number of girl graduates, unfortunately most were not employable because they went to School more or less to while away time till a husband calls. A young lady studying English and in her 1st semester of final year left her studies because a husband came calling, unfortunately what she expected was not what she saw, she realized so late and she didn’t differ her course program, today she is a problem instead of a solution.
One Great Challenge today is quality of education, it’s a different story with girls in my rural community, 98% have access to education, but the quality of education is the biggest problem now, it’s a pathetic issue now as a girl who has finished Secondary education (especially in Government Schools) finds it very difficult to read or write.
Lack of mother/child mentoring is a huge is barrier. I am a volunteer coordinator with an organisation called Kechies
Project www.kechiesproject.org, an organisation that supports and encourage girl child education, giving vulnerable girls who are intelligent but cannot afford basic requirements for school scholarship. Presently I noticed that one of the mothers feels it’s her right, she makes no effort anymore especially when we require documentation for the girls, and I had encouraged them that we all need to work together for their daughter’s success. I made out time to find out what could be wrong and did find out that the mothers themselves are going through so much challenges which has caused them low self-esteem and thereby affecting their decisions and attitude to those who are willing to help.
Free education, but not free - In Lagos State where I live there is free education, but there are other fees to pay and this discourages the parents. They are just so much for them that you will wonder what the ‘Free education’ meant.
Quest for money – due to demands from both school and the community, our girls even in primary school now have to help their mothers in hawking goods to make ends meet and these has exposed them to men who always promise them everything to sleep with them. Those of them involved in this hardly listen to anyone because they believe you cannot give them what they get from them. Most times I just wish we can afford to build a boarding school where everything will be free for the vulnerable, that way they can be managed and nurtured properly.
If we want to drive progress in the world, we need to put girls in the driver’s seat. Each of us can speak up, raise awareness, support organizations, or do something to make girls’ causes our cause. Girl power is one of global development’s most potent weapons against poverty - Kathy Calvin