This is the situation that women particularly in my region have undergone:
1) Cultural beliefs among many communities that women are meant to serve men in the house and have no business going to school as they won’t be allowed to work outside homes.
2) Girls are strongly considered as assets for bride price and taking them to school would delay the wealth possession by their families and spending any resources in their education is considered a loss because once they get married, they become property of those who marry them.
3) Most communities regard Western education to be associated with bad cultural influence and as such consider educated women to be spoiled and unfit for marriage. Most educated girls are hence isolated and neglected by men who equally do not welcome challenge and fear marrying enlightened women.
4) For the educated girls who are considered reserved and of good morals, their bride price is inflated as the suitor is expected to compensate the family for the cost of educating her thus marrying them is economically challenging.
On the contrary, if a woman is divorced from a husband, the girl’s parents are to return the bride price to the husband and this is not easy with a girl who bride price was enormous.
5) Even in well-to-do families, girls are not given priority as tradition only identifies boys to be the children of the home and community thus little attention is given to girls’ education.
6) Girls are overburdened with domestic chores and are not given room to study since they cannot share the chores with their brothers.
7) Extreme poverty levels compel the parents to marry off their daughters for wealth at a very tender age – some even before reaching puberty – making the number of girls finishing primary education below one per cent.
8) Poor government policies – The government attitude towards girls education is a direct replication of the family scenario. Even as the Southern Sudan government prepares for a referendum and transition, nothing affirmative about girls education appears in the manifesto.
Long live your vision Li Tim-Oi Foundation !