The customary rules in the most of African cultures require a woman to stay home, nurse and take care of the children, the house hold chores and build her home. So being a married woman meant leaving your ambitions, education and at times career behind to fully stay at home and commit to the duties of a wife.
I was doing my undergraduate at Kenyatta University when I got married. I risked it all at that particular time in terms of my parents withdrawing their support and my partner not being able to raise my university fees which meant the next thing my education was to come to a stop. I was fortunate that my parents decided to walk with me and continued supporting my education as they wanted to ensure that I finish my course on time with no hindrances. This did not go well with the society at large.
Many women are left off by their families when they get married. The ties between them and the support system are cut off and their education is stopped to lack of finances and financial support from their families or extended families. I thank my parents for being there despite it all.
Unfortunately my father passed on during my first semester - second year. That was a heart breaking moment in my life because I experienced the worst discrimination by people I held close to my heart due to the fact that I was a Married Woman. His passing meant that I lost the male figure in the larger family who would support me of course with the help of my mother to study. The reality struck so hard when he was buried after two weeks of his passing…. He was no more. So what next?
My undergraduate education was now at stake because my mother was left with the tea plantation back in the village which was her only source of income that she could use to sustain herself and my dependent siblings.
My mother’s cry for help to my relatives to support my education fell on deaf ears. Her voice became insignificant and she was often barred from speaking on anything regarding my education because I was A MARRIED WOMAN.
She was pestered and told not to pay my fees. They said “ How do you pay fees for someone who is married?” Those words still pierce my heart to date because I saw and felt her pain, her hunger to see me succeed and become independent because she never wanted me to go through the same struggles she went through educating herself as a married woman with no much help from the family. It was evident she was not going to give up on my education.
With no support from the extended family or any other source of income, life was never the same anymore. She was ready to fight for me and sure she did. She borrowed loans and with supplementary money from other sources managed to pay my fees till I finished campus.
I worked very hard and bet the odds that came with the struggles of being a married woman, a young mother and a student all in one. I managed to sail through and performed well in my studies despite the odds. I later joined a teaching college and did my post graduate diploma in education still being supported by the close people in my life but still facing the same challenges from relatives and society which did not understand why I was still furthering my studies and why my immediate family facilitated it while am still married and the same cycle continued.
Throughout this journey and my experiences, I have come to appreciate the fact that without support a married womans education, career, her future and successes are always under threat. Because women are often disregarded and lack support when they get married in both education and self development. They are left off to craft a way on their own to get through their education if they consider doing so because when they try to seek for education while in marriage, they are shunned by the society. This has derailed and denied many of them the opportunities to make it to greater heights and achievements in life as they give up midway. Most of them languish in poverty or become house wives because they are silenced and not supported by those close to them and the society.
Were it not for my Mother and siblings standing up for me and not succumbing to the pressure of the society not to educate me, I would not have made it to the level I am in right now. I also fought so hard for my space in education by working hard. I take every opportunity to encourage women who are married to still pursue their ambition in education despite the challenges we face.
This fight is real. The struggles of married women are real. It is a community that has no voice in most African cultures. Lets be their voice. Lets motivate the society to embrace and educate them. This will provide a means through which they can bring in their talents, knowledge , abilities and skills on board in order to build a strong and successful nation. It is true when they say, “EDUCATE A WOMAN AND YOU EDUCATE A VILLAGE.”
I hope we support every Married woman reach her goals because i believe marriage does not mean the end of the womans growth both mentally and intellectually.