East Africa is one of the poorest areas in the world. In addition to extreme poverty, many women across the region face common challenges such as illiteracy, forced marriages, polygamy, and domestic violence. Also common are health issues such as teenage pregnancy, female genital mutilation, uterine prolapse, fistulas, malnutrition, maternal death, and HIV/AIDS. Studies have shown that educating communities about the dangers of some old cultural practices, promoting respectful treatment of women and girls, and making protecting children a priority are major keys to overcoming these challenges.
Adopting and enforcing laws against child marriages and the sexual abuse of children, along with establishing mandatory education or skills training for all children will strengthen communities. When abusers are shamed and punished, people will begin to change their attitudes and actions. And as adults courageously speak up and act on behalf of their children, communities will prosper.
When girls become pregnant, they are often forced to marry the father, who is usually much older. Their bodies and emotions are not ready to be mothers or wives. They drop out of school, and the cycle of poverty and abuse continues. Providing safe homes in addition to education or skills training for unwed mothers is an opportunity to prevent further abuse.
Children need parents and teachers as well as religious and community leaders to teach them about health and life issues, show them the benefits of respecting others, give them passion and purpose to set goals, and protect them while encouraging them to overcome challenges and better their lives.
Join us as we pray this May for women in Eastern Africa.
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