At age 18, most young girls in America are thinking about their high school graduation and pursuing secondary education.
Turning 18 in most states of the US carries with it this legal privilege: age of majority. It is the defined age when a person is considered an adult with all the rights and responsibilities of adulthood. Voting and marrying are the two biggies.
Regardless of the legal definition of adulthood, folks are taking a look at the brain to see if 18-year-old brains really are mature. Not surprisingly, it has been discovered that the brain is still growing and changing at the age of 18. Celebrating that landmark birthday as the one that declares we are “all growed up” probably should come somewhere in our twenties. Some research suggests that as late as 30, the human brain is developing, growing, and maturing.
So, with the knowledge that 18 is not really the threshold of adulthood, it is particularly alarming that in many countries in every hemisphere girls are married prior to turning 18. In Niger, Mozambique and Mali-over 50% are married before turning 18. In Yemen-64%. In Bangladesh-81%. In Jordan, it requires court approval for a girl under 18 to marry men older by 20+ years. Muslim marriages in the Philippines are based on sharia (the moral code and religious law ): 15 years for males and for girls-the onset of puberty or 15, whichever comes first.
Some radical religious groups want all age restriction for marriage abolished-especially for girls. Suggesting that a marriage at any age should be legal is a startling notion. One of the most serious consequences would be the elimination of a young girl’s opportunity for an education.
In India, where Sister India works to educate the girls of that country, 47% of girls in India are married before 18 – some are married as young as 4 or 5 years old and impregnated at a dangerously young age.India is among the nations of the world that do not place value on educating their young girls – so, that is the singular focus of Sister India. Imagine the difference an education could have made in the lives of the 47% of young girls in India who were married before the age of 18.
As women of purpose and integrity, let’s commit to nurturing the young women in our lives so when she hits that legally deemed age of adulthood, she will be the most educated, wisest, and most confident 18-year-old she can possibly be. Let’s commit to building in our young women on the verge of adulthood, a sense of worth that will create in them a thirst for knowledge and a desire to embrace their role as women with grace and dignity.
Our callmesister.com dream
To sponsor an entire iSissies class of 30 students through Sister India
with a life-changing education
$30 will sponsor one student for one year*
and your donation will be matched
*In one year, 80% of students reach a fifth-grade reading level. Income-earning potential doubles. Before the class, 41% of students advocate child marriage; after, only 5% do. The 51% who advocated child labor at the beginning of the class has shrunk to 6%. Girls who once were sent into early marriage or child labor instead sit in classrooms. Students learn about women’s rights under law, and are encouraged to Honor the Girl Child.