FAMILY AWARENESS DOES MATTER FOR A WOMAN’S ACCESSS TO EDUCATION
Once I heard from my father about one of my aunts who was forced to drop her school in order to get her married off. She was a brilliant student and had strong desire to continue her study; however, the society and her family members preferred to get her married off. The reason behind such decision was that the community and her family believed that the ultimate goal of a woman’s life is to get married. They believed that through marriage the traditional role of a woman such as staying home to take care of children and family, cooking, and fulfilling the needs of family members are ensured. In addition, they believed that education has no value for a woman because under patriarchal society a woman is bound to play a role that the society expects her to play even if she is educated. By considering such beliefs and ideas, the community did not consider my aunt’s desire for further education and at last, forcefully she was married off.
This particular story that took place in our family represents a picture of a society with customs and practices which subordinate women to men and a society with gender inequality and lack of respect toward women. Even if the incident occurred 37 years ago in a community of Bangladesh, the recent condition of women in that particular community has not changed much compared to other communities that I am aware of. These barriers to education still exist in that community where lots of young girls are deprived of education or further education due to these customs and practices. It is also important to stress that there are lots of women who were and are able to overcome the barriers; however, the number of women like my aunt who fail to challenge the barriers to education cannot be ignored because the barriers or imposed restrictions not only disregard the right to education of these women, but also the community lacks itself the potential contribution of women that could play a significant role in the development of the community.
The incident that took place in my aunt’s life opens doors of opportunities in my life because the incident made my father motivated regarding the accessibility of education to his children. When the incident occurred, my father’s voice against my aunt’s marriage was not heard and therefore, he promised himself that he would leave the community for the sake of his children’s better future. To fulfill his dream as well as to establish a better future for him and for his children, later he moved to another district of Bangladesh. In the new community, with the help of my parents, I along with my other two sisters have been introduced with lots of opportunities to be educated and self-dependent. My parents have been playing significant roles in making me realized my talent and in discovering myself in today’s position. Due to having support from my family, I have become able to graduate from an international university and now I dare to dream of a life of my own. Nothing would be possible if my family was not beside me and supporting me.
From the incident in my aunt’s life and my experience regarding the accessibility to education both help me to realize that a family plays an important role in shaping a woman’s life as well as her future. In Bangladesh, children are highly dependent on their parents for almost all kinds of needs and almost all decisions are made by their parents. It implies that accessibility to education for women also largely depends on their families’ decision. Therefore, I think along with the steps to ensure accessibility to education for women, different education and awareness programs regarding the importance of education for women, should be provided to the families where the women belong to. If the programs are applied effectively, barriers to education for women can be minimized. The same change can also be seen in the societies because I believe if the families become aware of the importance of women’s education, societies will automatically be supportive toward it with the influence of those families.