As Uganda celebrates 8th International women’s day, girl child education remains an issue of debate among the Ugandans. Is it a blessing or a curse?
Ms. Angella Atim is not married. The 30 year old single lady and woman activist says, “I am seeing someone and we are not yet ready to get married”. Fortunately her parents are not bothered. However society especially the relatives wonder what is wrong with her saying “what is taking you so long to get married. You are wasting time and unsuitable. Unmarried woman is not worthy and her status is low”.
She says society looks at educated women as mentally retarded. “The more educated you become, the more disturbed you are! You say that, you are empowered unfortunately your empowerment is not understood by society. You are mentally corrupted by education”, Atim says.
For example the Marriage and Divorce bill which is currently debated in Ugandan Parliament has raised people’s eyebrows among several sections of society. Critics particularly some staunch Christians say that the bill is encouraging women to divorce yet it is not true.
The speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly, Margaret Zziwa, says the bill will enhance couples understanding of their rights, roles and status. Regrettably many couples are not aware of how to go about their relationships.
Nsubuga Tony a radio presenter believes that, highly educated women “know it all”. He says such women are not ready to submit to their husbands and therefore end up divorcing or separating. However, he reckons education is a necessary for the girl child to attain basics knowledge.
Yusufu Kimera is a 19 year old trainee at Uganda Media Women’s Association. He says, “Girls are expected to be married by 18 years according to the Muslim faith. Otherwise by the time a woman is of 30 years society considers marriage as a must.
Today the trend of marriage is changing especially among young, educated women. Many continue to delay marriage to achieve their personal goods in careers and business.
John Ochienge a six leaver contends that by 25 years of age, a woman should be married. Ochienge does not subscribe to the view that educated women are failures. Instead failures are related to morals and upbringing.
Ajambo Stella program officer with an International NGO says men fear educated women. “Men by nature want to be aggressive and winners in everything they do. However once a woman challenge the man’s status quo, she is not submissive”
She says that marriage is still considered important, but it is not a priority. She explains, “Men are looking for women who can play the women’s role – cook, raise children, look after the home – and these women are getting fewer. This is because women are pursuing their careers”
Nakibuuka Brenda Miriam is a 35-year-old single woman. She works as an editor in an urban radio station in Kampala. She says, “A woman should get married only when she is ready. Personally I am not ready. For marriage, a woman should be mentally prepared in all aspects”.
She will not get married because society is putting pressure on her. Nakibuuka adds, marriage is a ‘personal decision and not societal decision’.
The Member of Parliament Vuura Dr. Sam Okuonzi says educating a girl child is a blessing. The basic things that the mother needs to know can only be taught in primary school.
He explains, “When a girl attains basic education she is able to take her baby for immunization, eat a balanced diet and maintaining personal hygiene. She takes good care of herself” Therefore, chances of infant mortality are reduced by acquiring the knowledge.