There is something indeed very eerie about traditions and cultures especially when it comes to the evils that ail the human mind. Most traditions and cultures have an obsession with the male child it is no wonder that even the most illiterate and intelligent minds battle for the coveted male child. From such incomprehensible and despicable mindsets, emanate the horrific and vastly prevalent girl child abuse, which ironically defies all confines of social, economic and even intellectual status.
Harmful cultural practices largely informed by unequal gender norms, expose girls and young women to education, social and economic outcomes. The unequal gender norms, which render girls and young women unequal in all aspects of life, mean that they are unable to negotiate and make decisions about their lives. This negatively affects their chances of completing their education hence an increase in the number of school drop outs, teenage pregnancies and forced marriages. Several cultures tend to give more value to the, male child where inheritance is specifically given to him whether he is the last born or not at the expense of the female counterparts. There are extremes where a man will marry more women just so he can have a male child. Men who have male children in such traditions are more respected and thought to have strong security as compared to the homes with female children. Same goes for respect given to women who only have female children, they are belittled at every step. Such mind sets need to be changed for a better future of the girl children.
To turn things around, we need intervention at three levels; 1). Oppressive and discriminatory values at individual level that inform the ways in which boys and men relate to women must be transformed. 2). Programs that work with girls and women as oppressed or marginalized groups must aim to transform their internalized oppression and empower them to contest injustice and unequal gender relations. 3). Interventions at social and relationship level must aim to provide spaces and opportunities for contesting and changing unequal norms.
Finally, at the institutional level (including the family, schools, health facilities, etc.), programs that seek to create and maintain equal or inclusive environments must be created. With these interventions in place, the social norms that create and maintain the harmful mindsets in most cultures that push girls out of school may be eliminated.
We know there is a multiplier effect to educating girls. More educated women tend to be healthier, earn more income, have fewer children, and provide better health care and education to their own children, all of which can lift households out of injustices against girls, eventually women and then poverty. Encourage girl retention in schools for better futures.