I have recently got to learn through my colleague Karuna Dayal that Sudan is one of the countries where child marriage is prevalent. I also attended this discussion about one of CARE’s projects known as Tipping Point: Digging Up the Roots of Child Marriage to Replant the Future. So I decided to just share my thoughts on this.
Child marriage is defined as the formal marriage or informal union entered into by an individual before reaching the age of 18. I couldn’t help but think about how my mother was married off by the age of sixteen and my aunt at an even younger age when she was pressured to leave primary school to get married. They literally grew up with their husbands and raised children that were being brought up by everyone from the grandmother onwards. I wonder now, does that mean they were victimized and if so by who? And what if that was the norm at the time and no call to stop child marriage was ever present.
This ultimately makes me ask the question of who initiates change or calls to action and how? Where does it come from? Does it come from within the societies that are seeing it as a normal, traditional, cultural practice or whatever you want to name it? Or is it brought onto them by different groups of people, or does it take the courage of someone from within that norm or culture to speak up and raise awareness or to educate and communicate evidence be it scientific, economic or social that shows that such action should no longer be acceptable and needs to stop. But then wait, how do we find this courageous someone? Or put differently, how can we learn to be cognizant of the norm and what it entails. Are such norms consequences of lack of education and or maybe lack of opportunities to be exposed to the world around you?
I also recall hearing something in the news about Apple following Facebook in paying for their female workers to enable them to freeze their eggs and delay having children to a later point in their career or life. These days it seems we are encouraging females or giving them the option to marry at a later age and delay bringing up children to whenever is convenient or maybe when economically we can afford a better future for our children. These days families bring up one to three children and normally at a later age in life. But hang on wouldn’t we all love to bring up our kids when we are younger and have more time to spend with them? Don’t we all come to the conclusion that the most important thing in life is the people you love and that you surround yourself with. This leaves me wondering, What is the future we are trying to replant? And who does it serve? And why do we think it’s better? I also think about what looks like two extremes to me i.e. child marriage versus the “egg freeze”!!!