Wednesday 4 March
By Marjorie Clark, HIV Program Co-ordinator, World Mission Council
Marjorie Clark ,HIV Program Co-ordinator, World Mission Council
Education, education, education! There's no debate it's important, and in our country boys and girls have long enjoyed free primary and secondary education. In many countries, however, girl are the first to lose out on education if money can't be found for their school fees, they are needed to help with the domestic chores, or are sent out to work to supplement the family income. And, as today's statistic reminds us, millions of them end up getting married very young, and unaware of their rights within the marriage. HIV remains a great threat to women – a recent report recognises that 'the subordinate social position of women and girls limits their ability to protect themselves from HIV transmission. AIDS-related illness is the number one cause of death among women of reproductive age (15 – 44 years) in the world." In countries with a high HIV prevalence young women are five times more likely to be living with HIV than men their age. Girls and young women who are married have less of a voice in family decisions, and are less able to negotiate with partners about sexual behaviour. And child brides (those under the age of 15) are particularly vulnerable to harmful traditional practices and myths about 'curing' HIV.
Like Christian Aid, many of the projects supported by the Church of Scotland HIV Programme recognise the importance of good sexual education, for both sexes. But key HIV prevention messages need to be coupled with empowering girls to have the confidence to stand up for their rights and empower them to be able to negotiate safe sex with their partners. Getting a good education is one vital step along this road.
- Girl Summit 2014 - girls have a right to a childhood
- Of the Same Flesh: exploring a theology of gender
Every year, 14 million girls get married before the age of 18. At school, girls like Bokiya learn about their rights and the dangers of child marriage.
Pray that girls will be courageous and able to stand up for their rights.