The Girl is the Mother of Tomorrow
But what if that girl can’t go to school today?
In Tanzania, the proportion of girls accessing education is significantly lower than that of boys. This situation is exacerbated in the pastoralist areas because of the highly patriarchal societies, and the belief that from an early age a girl’s role is to get married, have children and stay at home to look after the family. The Pastoral Women’s Council (PWC) explain, “Maasai girls are supposed to herd their fathers’ animals, awaiting early, arranged marriages. In this case they attract a bride price in the form of cattle and hence are always seen as a source of wealth to the family. They are price tagged at an infant stage and can even be traded more than once by marrying them off to several prospective suitors.” In the areas where our partners work, only 30% of girls were completing primary school only a year ago. “They want the place of a woman to always remain as predefined by society and women should forever be submissive and accept everything without questioning.”
The challenges girls have to overcome are immense: 41% are forced into marriage by the age of 18; they become pregnant early and Tanzanian government policy is to deny girls access to education if they become pregnant; they have a dangerous and long walk to school, according to UNICEF’s Violence against Children study 20% of sexual violence happens on this journey; and many children stay in insecure ‘ghettos’ near schools, with no adult protection.