Ending Child Marriage in Africa: The Value of Education

Published 21/03/2016 by Petra Chikasa

John Stuart Mill, English philosopher and feminist, argued that the subordination of women is not only “wrong in itself” but “one of the chief hindrances to human improvement”. Today, more than 62 million girls around the world, half of whom are adolescent, are denied the right to an education. Different cultural beliefs keep girls and women out of the classroom, in many cultures women & girls are considered inadequate or inferior.

Despite a lot of efforts, particularly from the civic society, to stop child marriages, the problem persists. Zambia , as an example, has one of the highest child marriage rates in the world with 42% of women aged 20-24 years marrying by the age of 18. These rates of child marriage vary from one province to another, and are as high as 60% in the eastern province.

To facilitate progress in Africa there is need to appreciate the significance of opening up educational opportunities to women. Education is an important tool that can help both women and perpetrators of their abuse because some oppress in the name of culture. When women are intellectually empowered, they get a powerful voice of their own that no force can resist. UNFPA found that 65% of women with no education and 58% with primary education were married at 18, compared to only 17% of women with secondary education or higher. Of the 163 million illiterate youth across the globe, nearly 63 percent are female. Offering all children education will prop up literacy rates, pushing forward development in struggling regions.Realizing the importance and value of education for all is important. An educated girl will stay healthy, empower her community and lift her country. Thus every girl deserve education.

When women are provided with equal rights and equal access to education, they go on to engage in business and economic activities that facilitate the development of their communities and nations. Increased earning power and income combat against current and future poverty through feeding, clothing and providing for entire families. The sustainability and progress of all regions depend on the success of women across the globe. As President Obama said while addressing the United Nations General Assembly in 2012, “the future must not belong to those who bully women. It must be shaped by girls who go to school and those who stand for a world where our daughters can live their dreams just like our sons,” African leaders should go beyond speeches and create equal opportunities.

Child marriage is usually caused by high levels of poverty. Parents tend to marry their daughters off to pay a debt or because they believe that it will bring them some form of sustenance. It is very difficult to convince the parents and sometimes even the girl that going to school is a worthwhile investment for the family. In cases where the girl is willing to go to school, the parents prioritize the boy child’s education because they believe that a woman’s place is in the kitchen.

We need to let the whole world know that this is a real issue, through social media, gatherings, and that girls and women worldwide are denied an education because of embedded values such as early marriage. The battle against child and early marriages is one that has to be fought by everyone, realizing that girls are the most powerful force for change.

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“Something inside so strong…”

Published 27/08/2015 by Petra Chikasa

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This is my first post. As I write, I am listening Labi Siffre’s So Strong. This song was written and released by Labi in 1987. I wasn’t born at the time, and I acannot remember at which point I actually first heard it. 28 years after its release, the lyrics still apply to everyday situations globally.

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Something inside so strong
I know that I can make it, though you’re doing me wrong so wrong
You thought that my pride was gone, oh no
There’s something inside so strong

As a black (or brown) woman in today’s world, I am tempted to dwell on the opression naturally bestowed on me because of my skin colour or my gender. However, deep down, I know there are more people out there that are experiencing 10fold any opression I have ever faced, and yet they do not have an ounce of the voice I…

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When We Invest In Girls, We invest In Our Nation!

Published 18/08/2015 by Petra Chikasa

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Firstly I would love to share the amazing news that 120 girls from Chisyabulungu Community School will be able to stay in school for an extra year! To some, a year may not be much, but it is a great place to start, an extra year of schooling increases a girls earnings by 10%.
I created a petition using A World At School to criminalise Child Marriage in Zambia because I am passionate about seeing girls reach their full potential through education. I have always believed that as an Educated girl, it is my responsibility to empower girls in my country, to help them unlock my potential.
I first visited Chisyabulungu Community School in April 2015, it is a school with 572 pupils and 4 teachers in Sinazongwe District in Zambia. Pupils are expected to pay K30 per year which is about $4 and some pupils drop of school because their parents can’t afford $4 a year. In most cases, parents then marry their daughter off because it seems more sustainable for the family.
Poverty & Child marriage robs millions of girls the right to education and realisation of their full potential. With more education, girls delay marriage and help lift their families, communities and countries.
When I returned home, I was determined to find a solution to this problem.
We had a fundraising event to raise money for these girls and managed to raise enough for 120 girls to stay in school for a year as well as get some signatures for the Petition to Criminalise Child Marriage in Zambia.
It was also an opportunity for us to collect some shoes for pupils to wear to school during the rainy season.

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During this fundraising event, I met a lot of people that believe in the Education of girls in Zambia. There are 315 girls at Chisyabulungu Community School & each one of them deserves to go to school and complete her secondary Education. It was amazing to visit them again with great news.

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Fundraising has not stopped! I am hoping that very soon each and every girl will have a sponsor until she completes her education. And looking forward to carrying out #UpForSchool events to raise awareness and get more people to stand up for the Education and future of the Children of Zambia!

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Mabenda Sibanibani

Published 23/07/2015 by Petra Chikasa

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During my recent visit at Chisyabulungu Community school I had the opportunity to meet 120 amazing girls with big dreams and hopes but one of them especially caught my attention.
Her name is Mabenda Sibanibani, she is 13 years old and in grade six. I sat down with all the girls to talk about what they wanted to be when they completed secondary school. Most of them said they wanted to be teachers and a few said they wanted to be nurses.
Their guidance counsellor Told me these girls lack role models and because it is a small community, they all want to be like her.
All but one, Mabende wants to be a Pilot! She wants to go to university, learn how to fly planes and come home to improve her community.

An Educated girl, empowers her community and lifts her country! Be #UpForSchool & #LetGirlsLearn.

Sign the #UpForSchool petition to help children all over the world get an education! http://bit.ly/1yzFhnN

End Child Marriage.

Published 18/02/2015 by Petra Chikasa

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Zambia has one of the highest child marriage rates in the world with 42% of women aged 20-24 years are married by the age of 18, a rate that has not evolved since 2002. The rates of child marriage vary from one region to another, and are as high as 60% in the eastern province.

Why Do Girls Get Married Young?

Child marriage is usually caused by high levels of poverty. Parents tend to marry their daughters off to pay a debt or because they believe that it will bring them some form of sustenance. It is very difficult to convince the parents and sometimes even the girl that going to school is a bigger investment for the family. In some cases where the girl is willing to go to school, the parents will prioritize the boy child’s education because they believe that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. These beliefs are as a result of a patriarchal society.

should We Fight To End Child Marriage?

Child Marriage is a harmful practice that takes away so much from young girls. Every girl should an opportunity to go to school and get an education. Young girls are victim to harmful traditional practices that discriminate against their rights. UNFPA found that 65% of women with no education and 58% with primary education were married at 18, compared to only 17% of women with secondary education or higher.
This shows girls must get an opportunity to go to and Finish school without being married off. Having the same chance at an education as a boy. Realising the importance & value of education for all of us is important. An educated girl will stay healthy, empower her community and lift her country. So how can we deny a girls an education?

What Will You Do About It?

Talk about it! We need to do to Child Marriage what we did with HIV. We need to let the whole world know that this is a real issue, through social media, gatherings, and every other opportunity. Spread the world. Be the voice of the many girls that are unable to speak for themselves.
Seek out an organisation you can work with. There are a lot of institutions that are working towards ending child marriage, contact them, ask how you can help. If you are unable to work with an organisation, start/Join a campaign online. Retweet and share stories so that others can be informed as well. Keep the cycle of information going.

The fight against child marriage is one that has to be fought by everyone, we all need to realise that girls are the most powerful force for change