[I]n Mali, 85% of women suffer genital mutilation. Nearly 66% leave school early, and one in every five are forced to marry before the age of fifteen. Half of the 13 million souls who inhabit this corner of Africa are under age and only 50% of Malian girls go to school.
A real breakthrough in Mali would be the inclusion of girls in the educational system. It is much more difficult for girls to attend school and complete their primary education due to cultural and religious reasons. ‘He who has gone to school knows what to do in life’, says Assan, a housewife and mother of 3 boys and a girl, ‘knows the difference between right and wrong. He who does not attend school remains in the dark’.
Malian women are in the dark, unable to make any decisions about their own lives. Only 10% of women believe they have the right to refuse sex with her husband; 12% of the female population are entitled to make their own decisions about their health and a chilling 75% of women said that domestic violence is justified.
The girls are the key. They will be mothers, and an educated mother is able to address their own health and that of their children, increasing the chances of survival and life expectancy. A country with educated women is likely to improve its standard of living. A country of illiterate mothers is a country with little possibility of change.