A couple of weeks ago, I asked Nayrra of Humanity Lives On to write an article together. Knowing that the subject was something close to her heart, I suggested to write about women’s rights.

Born and raised in The Netherlands, education for all children was a normal for me. The evening before the first day I had to go to primary school, in my home country mandatory for all children as of the age of four, I was sobbing; how could I go to school not knowing how to write and read? Although throughout my school-life studying wasn’t easy for me, most of the time I just loved learning and gaining new knowledge.

However, at the television I watched short videos and later on various documentaries about children who weren’t that fortunate. Not all children got to go to school, hence, not all children even got to eat enough, got to wear decent clothes, had a roof above their heads. That was about 35 years ago and what strikes me daily, the circumstances for many children around the world hasn’t improved at all.

Still today, February 2018, children are deprived from a safe, healthy upbringing, let alone the chance to go to school. Children who are our future. Still today, February 2018, many girls and women are denied their right to equality.

One of the reasons I collaborate with Humanity Lives On, is their effort to bring attention to children in situations they shouldn’t be in. (Besides many other beautiful, compassionate campaigns). The Humanity Lives On team is a group of young adults who have all grown up in countries where they did saw, and have to see, the cruel and sad conditions in which their neighbors live… which neighbors of all of us have to endure on a daily basis.

We could slam you with the statistics, we could tell you once again, it is not fabricated material you see on the television, it is very real and still happening today. I think an even better way is to have an inspiring young woman, who grew up in the midst of such heartbreaking unfairness, tell you about it.

Read the story of Nayyra, get your eyes opened and hopefully, it will inspire you to be kind to our less privileged neighbors.

A change is needed. We need to stand up for our children.
I hope it will not take another 35 years before all, boys and girls, men and women are treated equally.

Patty ~ Dreampack.org

WOMEN’S RIGHTS

“Women’s rights, gender equality” quite familiar words, aren’t they? Well, I did not understand them not until I was 16 years of age. I remember quite well, I was in an English class and we were learning summary writing and the article we were to summarize was on women’s rights. After the class I couldn’t stop thinking about the article and the topic intrigued me. It had me asking myself what do they mean by women’s rights? I thought everyone was treated the same way?

The questions I had in my mind were very justified since I was born in a family of seven; two brothers, two sisters, my parents and I. We lived in the city of Nairobi, Kenya. I am the second born in the family and the first girl. Despite being a girl at home, I was never treated as inferior to my brother. In fact, our parents gave us equal treatment.

When it came to school, our parents made sure that we all went to school, they never discriminated between a boy or a girl

When it came to work, my dad worked as a businessman and my mother as a tailor and my mother had all the rights to decide what she wanted to do with her earnings.

When it came to inheritance, as far as my mother is concerned when my grandmother passed away whatever she left behind was equally divided amongst her siblings and her.

Even around the neighborhood all my friends went to school and as far as I can recall, I do not remember any of them complaining about their parents treating them differently from their brothers.

So I lived in an environment where I never came across gender inequality. I only came across it in the English class after which I started researching and asked a few of my classmates who have families that live in the rural areas since it is there that such cases are very prone.

I found out that not many girls get their rights to education, right to work, right to inherit or right to own any property and that I should count myself amongst the “lucky ones”.

I also got to know that one of the reasons of gender inequality is cultural belief. Kenya is home to a group of more than 40 ethnic groups this was not shocking that in most of the communities the parents never found the importance of educating a girl since her education was not to benefit her nor her family. After all girls were meant to be married off and end up in the kitchen.

This is actually something I also got to witness when we had new neighbor’s, they were of Indian origin just like me, but the girls never went to school and by the age of sixteen they were married off. When their parents were asked about this all they would say was “after all, even the girls with degrees end up in the kitchen” and this seriously had me being thankful that my parents thought that it was important to educate both the girl child and the boy child since you never know what the future holds for them.

I think the only way we can get rid of this menace is to educate the parents that girls can do much better and they can help the society if they are educated and they can be independent and stand for themselves rather than being dependent on them or their husbands.

Another reason that has many parents not taking their girls to school is poverty, despite the efforts put in by the Kenyan government of providing free primary since the year 2003. Most parents say that just the fee is not enough; children need food for breakfast and lunch and also the school materials and uniforms which most parents are unable to provide. The ones that have a little prefer sending their boys since according to them, educating the boys would be more beneficial to the family than a girl, because once the girl is married off she will no longer be helpful to them.

A documentary I watched four years ago, was about the lack of sanitary pads the reason behind many parents not sending their girls to school. Many of the people who live in the rural areas are affected by poverty and they cannot afford to buy their girls sanitary towels every month. So this means every time their child gets her menses she is to stay home and use alternatives such as goat skin, feathers of chicken and soil. The government and NGOS have set up programs to provide free sanitary pads, but these programs only benefit a third of the population, which still leaves a large number of girls with no alternatives. The being absent has them missing a lot and eventually drop out.

The unavailability of an educational institution in the vicinity is also a major reason as to why girls never get a chance to go to school. Here in the city, there are many schools and it is not a problem for the parents to send their children to school, but in the rural areas, especially the arid and semi-arid parts of Kenya schools, are very scarce one could have to walk for two to three kilometers before they reach school and also the teachers there are very few since not many teachers are willing to stay and live in such areas.

Parents fear for their girls what if something happens to them while on their way to school? Or what if they are attacked on their way to school? such fears stop parents from sending their girls to school. They would send their boys because they face very little difficulties as compared to the girls.

These are but just a few reasons that affect not only Kenya but most countries in the African continent.

I feel like that no girl should be deprived of her right to education since education is the primary thing that will have her aware of her other rights.

I wish for the other girls who live in rural areas and also for the few in the cities to get their rights as much as we got since I believe it is the only way humanity will live on.

Nayyra ~ Humanity Lives On