Poverty, Illiteracy and Its Effect on Women and Girls

Today, most of Zambia's population is affected by extreme Levels of poverty despite being ranked ninth in the World in terms of having rich copper deposits. The majority of people, especially women and children are living below the poverty line. International organizations like the United Nations have verified  these findings and continue to do so. 

Subsequently, the poverty in Zambia has drastically affected the health of Zambians especially women and the children. Most women die during childbirth because of lack of health facilities. During antenatal visits, poor pregnant women are requested to provide their own stuff such as maternity pads, cotton wool, methylated spirit and jik bleach ,gloves, buckets and many more. I have witnessed this as I have assisted women with these requirements in my individual capacity.  This ofcourse means these items have to be procured from  pharmacy stores that have proven expensive for poor people.

Amongst the many  concerns I would like  to share is  how women and young girls in Africa are dominated by their husbands in marriages. This is more pronounced to those living in rural areas. Most  women are deprived of opportunities such as education and career choice. This is aside from the major cancer of early marriages amongst young girls whose future has been destroyed by reason of dropping out of school in preference to marriage. 

It's so sad, here in Zambia as very young girls are still being  given into marriage by their parents or Guardians. Girls as young  as 13 years and this is one of the heartbreaking situations that has ruined great potentials and destinies of so many girls  with great minds who if were given an opportunity to access quality education, would have contributed hugely to the development of their respective communities and country at large. 

Additionally, the issue of street kids has over the years spiraled out of control. Many of the affected  kids come from very poor families who can't afford to send them to school let alone, feed or clothe them. The few  who are lucky, unfortunately ,cannot continue and eventually drop out from school owing to lack of a consistent sponsorship . The result is that all these kids turn to the streets to ask for alms in a bid to help feed their families.  This further leads to high levels of crime  as most of these kids are forced to engage in bad vices such as drug abuse, stealing, rape, robbery just to find ways to survive. This is a very major concern too and my heart bleeds as most governments don't  have  plans or resources  to sort this problem .

The said kids are future generations and hence, I have taken it upon myself to ensure  that I contribute to giving them a foundation to build and develop their lives. It's very clear that this problem, if  not sorted, serves as a ticking time bomb with long term devastating  effects on our community, society and country as a whole. 

 Zambia is a developing country and most people are still in extreme poverty and being an advocate for women and girl's rights,  I am not looking or asking for recognition from anyone but to render help where I can is my major motivation.  So far,  I have helped so many school drop out girls in some local communities in just my small individual capacity as I owe what I do to God almighty.

Another issue is that people are broken everywhere ,women and  girls  especially.  We have a lot of  suicide cases  owing to many factors. For example, I recently learnt through my mother, of a case of  one of the girls in her area  who committed suicide after she failed year 9  Examinations.  When one  looks critically and analyses situations like this, it could be attributed to lack of emotional support to such girls  hence my resolve to advocate for young girls and women.

Many women here in Zambia are  stuck in abusive marriages as they have nowhere to go and unfortunately, most of them have no formal education which makes it harder for them as they still can't get a decent job to look after themselves.  This  is the reason we need to spread our  wings wider in promoting women empowerment. 

Admittedly, we have a number of charitable organizations dotted around the country,  but the situation is overwhelming and I thought I could also contribute to lessening or altogether, solving the predicaments that young girls and women are facing in my country. 

It therefore follows that given the above motivation and prevailing situations in my country and around Africa, I was prompted to look  for women organizations  that I can partner with to sincerely reach out to as many  women and girls as we possibly can in a bid to offer  genuine and heartfelt help they so badly need.

June 2022
Barbra Mwenya

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