One morning as I was jogging, I was about to pass by 3 young girls of about 16-20 years old when I heard one of them saying “I have my freedom”; and one of the two other young girls replied “Freedom without money? What is that?”Without a word I continued my jogging but what I heard from their conversation really amazed me. For the rest of the walk I reflected on what I heard. Then I remembered what a leader told me concerning the challenges he faces in counseling young girls and women in his community. Literally, the CL repeated what most young girls tell him during counseling sessions: “It is better to be rich in a prison than poor in happiness”. Though there might be no relationship between the young girls’ conversation and what the leader told me, I started asking myself some questions: What is freedom for young girls and women in general? What is the real meaning of “Freedom without money?” Does freedom necessarily imply financial gain? If no, is it possible for a young girl to accept an “unhealthy” life provided she has money? What amount of money is worth the sacrifice of one’s freedom? Where does the idea of Freedom=Money comes from?
These are the views from two different groups of women:
|Freedom||Definition||Perception of the idea||Link between freedom and financial gain||Financial conditions for freedom||Origins of the perception
|Group1||can do; say what I want, and when I want with whom I want||It’s obvious that freedom should bring money||MoneyèFreedom||-The amount of money
|Group2||Same answer above but include the law as the norm for liberty||Subjective||Freedom<==>
-Money is a meant not a finality
-Age of development
|Happiness; Family; stability
|-Parental financial status
This micro study might not have all the answers to the above questions but it provides an opportunity to know more for young girls and women.
What the community leader said is actually an observation. This coupled with his years of experience in counseling are evidences that we need to do something to help our young girls. From the two groups of women, freedom is a liberty; in addition, the second group introduces the law as the gatekeeper of that liberty. The sentence: “Freedom without money? What is that?” means, for the first group of women that freedom should lead automatically to financial gain while for the other group, the meaning is subjective. For the first group, women should acquire money first and they would be able to enjoy their liberty whereas for the second group, factors like age and the perception of money as a mean to access freedom can influence the link between freedom and money. It is very interesting to notice that there are no similarities in what the two groups consider as conditions for freedom: the first group put an emphasis on the amount of money and financial rest as conditions for freedom while group 2 said happiness, family stability and a decent job are the conditions for young girls/women’s freedom. Human models played a great role in the perception of “Freedom=Money”. For group 2, parental financial status has helped built that idea.
The UDHR gives some characteristics of human freedoms: Movement, residence, though, conscience and religion, opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and association. It is written in article 4 “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms”. I interpret this like “no one should be in any sort of prison for whatsoever reason unless the law has been violated”. All these are legitimate by birth.
Relating this with the conversation of the young girls, I could simply say that they need to be sensitized on their rights. It’s obvious that ignorance may be part of the declaration “Freedom without money? What is that”? If I had the opportunity to discuss with these 3 young girls again, I could simply tell them that freedom is legitimate and money should not be an obstacle or the goal for their freedom. What women think about money and freedom is capital to the stability of our societies. They are among the marginalized group, the poorest, the least paid and unfortunately the less educated concerning their rights for economic growth and social welfare. Let’s do something to support the mothers, sisters, wives and friends…Do something now by sharing this article, posting your comment or recommending it to your friends.
Key Words: Development; Freedom; Money; Women; Young girls.
By Hervé-Boris NGATE,Masters Intercultural Studies.
Read the UDHR on http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/