Education = Power!

Why reach for the sky when there are footprints on the moon.

Education, something that I hold very close to my heart, something from which my eyes were opened and I was exposed to a world full of possibilities. Where nothing seemed impossible.

Education is important for anyone. Of course. However for women and girls the importance is immensely increased. Education is not only a door way to countless opportunities, but also the educational achievements of women can have direct ripple effects within the generations to come. Investing in a girls education is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty. With education being made mainstream for women, they are able to recognise the importance of health care both for themselves and their children.

Girls who are educated are as a result more informed and aware of their rights this can have a direct effect on issues such as forced marriages, domestic violence as well as sexual, racial and gender discrimination. With girls having access to education they are also able to free themselves from the poverty cycle.

So why is this not happening?

Equal educational opportunities might not seem like much to ask for, however the harsh reality is that significant numbers of girls are denied the right to education simply based on their gender. Here the far reaching positive effects of education need to be highlighted. Education can increase awareness regarding contraception and child birth, girls who have been educated are more likely to have smaller, healthier families with greater understanding of health care.

The education of parents is also directly linked into their children’s educational achievements, therefore an educated mother’s greater influence in the household may allow her to secure more resources for her children. Having a greater understanding of the schooling systems as well as adjusting into the systems of society can also influence the positions of women. So why is this not happening? Why is there still such traditional views regarding education and the female population? Now I’m not saying we should all start burning our bras and start hating all men, but raising the questions! Most definitely! what makes a girl less worthy? Who has the right to decide? Why am I denied this right simply on the basis of being a women. For such views to change fundamentally the views of society must change, individuals need to be seen as humans before anything, before being categorised into separate gender roles, one more superior than the other.

Ultimately we do live in a masculine, patriarchal society. With a widely shared view that investing in a girls education is a waste as ultimately her responsibility is to run the home. But educating a girl can resource her home in more ways than imaginable. Education does not always mean competing with men and running the world, but competing with the ways of society and running your world!

 

The Girl Child: My Stolen Childhood

Summer dresses and flip flops, braids and raincoats summer days and rainy nights. For me all this is childhood, nostalgia. My childhood, a time of loving and learning. Mischief and innocence. A time where smiles appear without any effort and life is in its most simplest form. Whilst I would trade anything to jump back into my land of no worries, as many as 150 million children aged between 5-14 within developing countries would trade anything to be free from theirs.

Child labourer is defined by many welfare organizations as ‘a child who has to work everyday, sometimes for more than 14 hours a day and is not paid as per the norms’ World Day against Child Labour rally

Issues of poverty, family debt, easier and cheaper availability of child labourers as well as social mindset are just some of the root causes from which child labour is becoming an increasingly worrying phenomenon. Through increasing amounts of young girls being thrown into the working world, less are able to attend any form of education, increasing chances of early marriage, sexual and physical abuse and consequently failing to break free from the poverty cycle forcing them to live through a life of adversity.

Although the statistics show increasing numbers of boys involved within child labour, many of the types of work girls are involved in are invisible. Domestic servants, street work, commercial sexual exploitation and household work are just some of the many. Whilst society is oblivious to the harsh reality, too focused on oneself, more and more girls are being stripped of their dreams, washed away like the dirty dishes that you and me are too ignorant to do ourselves.

The social mindset regarding girls play a fundamental role in underpinning the causes for female child labourers. Education being disregarded, girls being seen as a burden for the family and the ‘expected’ roles of society destroy any chance of diminishing child labour. Ultimately without poverty there would be no young girls working when they should be learning and dreaming. However in order to eliminate poverty the basic mindsets and opinions of the people have to change. You cannot eradicate poverty by making the next generation poor. If everyone one is equal, and everyone is successful what is there to brag about? Who will do your dirty work, if not the poor? All I am saying is I am ready to do mine, are you?

Stand against child labour!

 

 

 

 

 

The Child Bride!

Marriage should be a time for happiness and celebration, bringing two people together as one. Unless you are one of the 60 million young girls around the world that are forced into marriage under the age of 18. The child brides.

Imagine the life of these girls, some as young as 16, 10 and even 7 years old. Rewind back to a seven year old me, when not getting the new Barbie doll was the end of the world and missing an episode of Tom and Jerry meant life or death. When hearing of a seven year old getting married our initial reaction is one of complete outrage. Why would any parent possibly want to marry off their daughter at such and age and that to, to a much older man? Wouldn’t this increase the risk of domestic violence? Increasing the risk of complication regarding child barring? Figures published by UNICEF suggest that pregnancy and childbirth are an important element of mortality for girls aged between 15 to 19 worldwide, accounting for around 70,000 deaths each year.

When discussing such an issue it is significantly important to highlight the many varying factors behind child marriages. Despite what people may believe child marriages are not linked to a single religion, but are found across all religions, ethnicities and cultures. As outsiders it is easy to generalise and make assumptions. However, as a parent living through poverty where food is scarce and many mouths to feed, tough choices await. Just like any parent, they are trying to make the best decision for their daughter, in hopes that this loving sacrifice will offer her security and protection. However there is a much sinister and saddening side to the story. The reality is that girls who become the child brides are increasingly at risk of commercial sexual exploitation and violence. As they cannot abstain from sex, these young girls are consequently exposed to serious health risks such as, premature pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and increasingly HIV and AIDS.

Many believe that the issue is too complex, with many contributors such as poverty, and the issue being too buried within cultural traditions. But change is vital! change can only come through education. Girls being educated about their rights and learning to stand up for them. Laws being enforced regarding minimum age for marriage, and communities being made aware of this. Change can only come when girls have access to quality education. And ultimately change can only come when parents feel they have better alternatives to marriage for their daughters.

 

Living Without a Face… My Fault?

‘Acid Throwing, also known as acid attacks, is a violent form of premeditated assault involving throwing acid on someone in order to physically kill, or disfigure them. Attackers often aim for the head or face of their victim in order to harm or blind them’

Imagine your life changed within seconds, jealousy and hatred filled with in a liquid substance, thrown across your face, destroying your appearance, your confidence and your life. This happens to people all across the world, most commonly with women and young girls. The act of acid throwing often leaves individuals disfigured for life and can also lead to death. Although acid attacks can happen to anyone, anywhere, the figures are highest within India and across Asia. These vicious acts are usually carried out through jealousy, hatred and obsession with the intention to attack and disfigure their victim, which is why the acid is usually aimed towards the face and neck.

Although women across the world are celebrated for their beauty, intelligence and confidence. Some are also destroyed for these exact qualities. Stripped of all theses attributes in one single malicious act of jealousy and obsession. These women are left almost alien within their own communities, seen as an unwanted stain. In such communities some women are also denied marriage becoming unwanted, the phrase ‘freak of nature’ is commonly used to describe such victims automatically attaching a stigma consequently resulting in stereotypical views.

My interest in the subject emerged through my outrage at discovering the extent of this issue and how widespread it actually is. To see the extent to which one human would go to destroy another humans life is somewhat saddening. The realisation however, that these attackers don’t often realise, or maybe some do, of the severity of their crime and how it can destroy the victim both mentally and physically. On the other hand it is also significant to highlight individuals like Katie Piper who became an acid victim in 2008 set up by her ex-boyfriend. Katie is one of many, however her story was highlighted through the media bringing light to a much sinister issue. Many including myself see Katie as an inspiration, someone who had to embrace this harsh reality.

So the question remains, is it my fault? Just because I may be physically attractive or moving ahead in my life, does that give someone else the freedom to ‘punish’ me for this?

The power of unity is stronger than you think as women we need to stand as one against such malicious acts carried out through selfishness and greed. Stand as one Mothers. Daughters and Sisters.

Malala: A Voice for Women! A Voice for Humanity!

Since the very beginning of my journey, I have always felt deep passion for equal rights for women, more specifically women’s education. Education enables women to claim their rights, and realise their potential in the economic, political and social fields. The concept of education is increasingly significant in terms of providing a strong foundation for young girls in their development into adult life, as well as proving to be a crucial factor in terms of lifting individuals out of poverty. However even though endless benefits are visible, the harsh reality is that the numbers of girls having access to education are considerably low, with an estimated 66 million females being neglected the righmalalat for education.

Therefore, my passion for such issues was immensely increased through Malala Yousafzai. Reflecting on myself as a young female, to whom education is a form of independence and power. The thought of living in a patriarchal society, having my most basic right, the right for ‘my’ education questioned would seem very unjust. A difficult pill to swallow to say the least.

The realisation that for many girls just like myself this is a harsh reality is extremely saddening. The important thing, however is to recognise and celebrate people like Malala who dare to speak out, who become the exception within the system, enabling themselves as well as others to build the courage within themselves to stand for their rights, their independence as well as their futures.