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Early Marriages; a barrier to girl education.

A girl named Rani from a small town in Rajasthan is just 14, but her parents have already started talking about her marriage. Instead of going to high school, she works at home doing the household work. Getting an education is still a struggle as I come from a background where people never feel the need to educate themselves. Farming is the only occupation that people do for a living. My grandfather was also a farmer and unable to provide education to my father who just completed a very minimum education and got married at an early age. I grew up in a community where people largely believe that boys are superior to girls in many ways.

When it comes to the education of the girl child, there are more girls than ever that go to school today. However, despite this progress, women and girls continue to face multiple barriers based on gender and its intersections with other factors such as age, ethnicity, poverty, and disability in the equal enjoyment of the right to quality education.

Early marriage is a major impediment on the girl’s road to a meaningful tertiary education, with most parents believing a girl only needs to know how to write one’s own name and address.

They believe a girls’ destiny is marriage and if she studies more there is a major likelihood of her getting spoilt and selfish thus bringing infamy upon the family.

Growing up in a community where people still have the same mentality as in the late 90s where women were restricted from going out in public places or get an education is difficult to deal with. The statements above are normal for a girl to hear every day from her parents just because she is a girl.

Education and having a job are for boys. Female discrimination has been going for ages, from the time when a girl was either accepted as a liability or killed before she came out.

Dowry traditions, according to which parents must pay large amounts of money to marry off their daughters, are considered one of the reasons why parents prefer boys to a girl.

Gender inequality results in unequal opportunities, and while it impacts the lives of both genders, statistically it is girls that are the most disadvantaged.

In India, 32% of the rural women aged 20-24 years were married off before the age of 18. But for Jharkhand, this figure is still higher at 44%. Study results show that the average age of marriage is 16 years. They also point out that there is a clear link between education and marriage as school dropout significantly increases the likelihood of marriage. Girls who dropped out of school were 3.4 times more likely to be married early on. As soon as a girl drops out of school, marriage is usually right around the corner.

Girls are told from childhood that they are only meant for household work.

The first and foremost duty of the state and the family should be to ensure that all girls go to school and get an education, not married off at an early age.

Education is everything- education is your power, education is your way in life for whatever you want to do. – Ciara.

This coupled with having culturally appropriate interventions for creating an enabling environment and safe spaces for girls to have correct information around these issues, as well as, access to sexual and reproductive health services will go a long way in nurturing the overall physical and mental well-being of our girls.

Edited by Kabuku C Kabwela.

Author Bio

Hello people, my name is Anju, a high school student from India who loves to try different stuff such as writing blogs and poems. I love to use my voice to spread awareness of gender inequality around the globe with the help of clubs, NGOs, and the internet.

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