The added difficulties of women
Our experience in the Ma’di sub-region (Moyo and Adjumani District in Uganda) tells us that families are not at all opposed to girls going to school. However, the literacy rate in Moyo is 75% for men and 50% for women. The reasons that lead to this situation are closely related to the marked-role society of the Ma’di and require a bit of analysis:
Although initially no family seems to oppose their daughters going to school, if the family’s economy does not allow them to send all of them, they will choose to send the boys first. This has a lot to do with the position of power held by men, which automatically makes them think that they should go first.
Once the economic limitations have been overcome, the second step has to do specifically with the role that a woman is expected to fulfil: to serve the home. This is a task that corresponds only to boys and girls and women (never men), women always being the first to do it. For this reason, many girls stop coming to our music project, since they have to be at home serving, which translates into cleaning, laundry, cooking, shopping, taking care of the little ones, collecting water for home use etc. The result of this is girls and women overloaded with work, which is not compatible with extracurricular activities like ours, while boys and men have time for leisure.
Lastly, this extra workload that boys normally do not have, means that girls have to do their homework when they are already very tired, in many circumstances without adequate light, which leads to frequent school dropouts and poor school performance, much lower than that of children.