It’s the combination of religious fundamentalism and discriminatory laws
“Girls students are not allowed access to the university compos after 6 PM; men students are allowed access until mid night”
“Women students should NOT wear neither short sleeves shirts nor tight T-shirts they are only allowed to wear long sleeves or BIG shirts”
“Un-veiled women are denied access to schools and universities”
“Those faculties are ONLY for men”
The aforementioned quotations are just samples of many regulations at our schools\universities!
The story I am going to tell today is the story of all women experienced living under combination of religious fundamentalism groups reaches power, discriminatory laws and armed conflict.
The story I am telling today started four years before my birth in 1983 when Sharia laws was introduced for the first time in Sudan.
Let me first tell you a bit about myself and my parent:
I am the daughter of a land witnessed the longest war in Africa, I am the daughter of a land that one of the worst crimes against humanity committed on it, I am the daughter of the land that women would be lashed every day, they would be lashed for wearing trouser, or even simply hanged out with friends at night. Yes I am the daughter of this land, and guess what; I love this land! Isn’t this what people do, loving their parents whatever what they do!
in my country, women enrollment in formal education is relatively high; more than 60% of students in Sudan are women, however for me the question is not about how many girls enroll schools, rather is why are they enroll schools, why they need to be educated ?!
When we were at schools we had been taught that unveiled women will go to hell, women who don’t obey their husbands will go to hell, women are the source of seducing men and make them committing adultery, that’s why when God talked about adultery he mentioned women before men, women… women… women… women are the evil of this world!
I am recalling now my teacher repeating the famous Sudanese proverb:
“even if she studied law, her destiny is the kitchen”.
What our schools teach us is basically reflection of government’s ideologies, we can confirm this when look at the general status of women in Sudan, and the laws are in place in the country. Laws based on fundamental religious ideology, resulted in criminalization of any act aiming at empowering women, or trying to raise women participation in public life. The Sudanese criminal code for instance would consider women and men in an ordinary office practicing prostitution, the law says any place were woman and a man gather without blood relationship could be considered place of prostitution. Woman are the one to blame in such case she would go through very restrictive court process comparing by her fellow man.
Most women after they graduate from universities end-up as housewives, they end-up repeating the same proverb my teacher was repeating, they end-up with less appreciation to girls education and basically appreciate their years at schools and university because it’s a good way to find wealthy husband, poor men only marry uneducated women.
For me education is not only about classes or lessons, education should be meant to empower women and encourage them to fully participate in society to make women envision the future with optimism and belief in better world.
Reforming discriminatory laws, considering to the quality of education, carefully drafting massages which teachers are delivering, and before all granting freedom! This what paves the way for girls to harvest the fruits of their education.