Early Marriage

429520_10150454864036116_1463205809_n25% of all Kenyan girls younger than 15 years old are married. The Maasai community has one of the highest rates of child marriage – 90% of young girls are married.

Maasai girls are not taught to speak up for themselves, to cultivate dreams for the future, or to develop leadership skills.  Rather, they are instructed from a young age by their parents and elders that their future is to become a wife and mother when they reach puberty.

Education for girls is not valued as a priority for family or community investment.  Girls do not receive the attention from teachers that boys do, and they are expected to spend their evenings doing chores rather than studying.  Thus, they tend to perform at a lower level than their male peers and are unable to continue beyond primary education.

Although FGM and early marriage are illegal in Kenya, 90% of Maasai girls are still subject to these traditional practices at puberty.  Currently, the biggest challenge for young Maasai girls is to stay in school despite pressure to drop out for marriage.