Education is life – it changes everything
Some Massai families are keen to marry their daughters at an early age so they can collect the dowry from the family of the groom. Because of this, little value is seen in ‘investing’ in girls’ education, when she will then leave for another family.
Fourteen year-old Lenoi had to run away from her home in order to attend school. Both her father and stepmother were against it. With the help of Oxfam partner, the Pastoral Women's Council (PWC), a local organization that works to end gender inequalities in the local Maasai communities, Lenoi has been attending Emanyata Secondary school since 2012.
She said: "I don't go home for any holidays for fear that my parents will marry me off or that I will get pregnant. My brother visited the school to take me home one day but he was denied access. He promised that they would bring me back, one way or another. The school told him to get my father to come and make an agreement with them if this was the case. He never showed."
But Maasai girls are not alone in this. Despite near-universal commitment to end child marriage, one in three girls in developing countries, like Tanzania, will be married before the age of 18. One in nine before 15.
Girls who are forced into early marriage most often are not allowed to continue their education after they are married, and many are illiterate. Without an education, it is even harder for these girls to enjoy and advocate for their most fundamental human rights.
Lenoi wants to choose her own life path. She has struggled so much to get an education, because she believes that education is life.
"I dream of one day being a doctor. I want to have my children educated in the best schools. With the help of Oxfam and PWC, this dream could become a reality."
Oxfam supports the Pastoral Women's Council through Engendering Change – a five-year program co-funded with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), that builds the capacity of local partner organizations to advance women’s rights.