To mark Canada's first Gender Equality Week 2018, MEDA is highlighting important issues and voices around women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in the area of economic development. This is the first installment of our #EveryoneBenefits blog series. This is a conversation between one of our Jordan staff members and her son on the topic of child marriage.
On a Saturday night, I was reading the National Report on Early Marriage Status in Jordan, going through all the surprising statistics made me so sad. Just like other kids, my 10 years old son – Obada - tends to rush through dinner as he usually can’t wait to get back to “hot wheels cars”. But looking at my sad face this time he stuck around to know what makes me feel depressed. When he asked I thought to listen to his opinion, his perspective and thinking about early marriage.
So, we had the following conversation:
Me: Obada, what do you think about early marriage? Obada: What do you mean by early marriage? Me: Getting married before finishing school
Obada: NO way mama, that’s a joke!!!
Me: No Obada, unfortunately this is the case of many young girls in Jordan and other places in the world
Obada: You mean the same age of Aisha? (Aisha is my niece and she is 16)
Obada: Mama, Aisha couldn’t take care of our new baby, she can’t cook, she still eats un-healthy food, she still plays with us “hide and seek” and she didn’t finish her studying!!! She can’t be a mother, mothers know everything because they finish school and university
Me: Yes, I know.
Obada: Mama, do the families of those girls agree on this?
Me: Yes, most of the times.
Obada: They should go to prison!!!
Obada: What about work, how those girls will earn money if they don’t learn how to do so?
Me: You are right, most of those girls can’t work
Obada: And the government, does it agree on that?
Me: Yes, un-fortunately, sometimes it does
Obada: The government should go to prison too!!!
We finished our discussion and Obada went to his “hot wheels cars” as planned, but I’m pretty sure that he will remember this conversation. I believe that introducing gender equality concepts to our children at a young age is important because it is important that they see us as role models. When we talk to children about oppression and inequality, we are breaking the cycle of ignorance.
I believe that my country of Jordan has taken great steps in creating gender equality in terms of education and health, however, we’re still taking baby steps in economic and political participation of women. Women in Jordan are still struggling in finding equal opportunities in work, business, governmental high positions, parliament, etc.
I hope in the coming years my two daughters will have access to the same opportunities as my son. I hope they will face fewer obstacles along their path. I hope my community will respect their dreams and courage.
This article was originally published in MEDA's The Marketplace Magazine.