Keeping Girls in School: Addressing Early Marriage and Breaking Barriers to Reproductive Health Care
reader diary by LindaSuttenfield, Pathfinder International
September 28, 2011
Haregnesh Abetneh is 20 and lives in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. At age three, she was given away in a “promising” marriage. I met Haregnesh on a trip to Ethiopia recently and was awed by her story.
“When I turned 8,” Haregnesh said, “I was already divorced. I wanted to attend school, but my family wanted me to enter another marriage. This created a challenge, but I kept telling my parents that I did not want to get married again. I saw educated people and the difference in their lives. I also had friends who were in early marriages, who began having children very young. I watched as they had no food to eat or feed their children and they just kept getting pregnant and having babies. Some of them experienced prolonged labor and fistula. I could see that they were suffering and I wanted my future to be different.”
Over the last five years as I’ve worked at Pathfinder, I have seen that when girls have educational opportunities, they are empowered to improve their reproductive health and their lives. Conversely, when they are denied education, they are at a higher risk of poverty, HIV and AIDS, gender-based violence, and other harmful traditional practices. Getting and keeping girls in school is one of the best ways to foster later and chosen marriage, thus reducing the risk of maternal death from early child birth. With this fundamental belief in mind, Pathfinder International provides educational support intervention to girls like Haregnesh as an integral part of women and girls’ empowerment efforts.
To read the full article, please click here: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/reader-diaries/2011/09/28/keeping-girls-school%E2%80%94addressing-early-marriage-breaking-barriers-reproductive-health-care
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