The Maasai tribe face starvation and desperation on a daily basis, this extreme poverty has led to an oppressive cultural norm for females – of all ages – in the tribe. These young girls are married off to much older men, who have multiple wives, in exchange for a one time payment. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) make the girls more “valuable” while education does not. These child brides are forced to birth as many children as possible, regardless of their ability to care for them.
Maasai women traditionally have no rights at all. They have been treated as working chattel, not unique human beings with preferences and inherent rights.
Traditionally, Maasai men are allowed as many wives as they can afford. The wives are paid for with livestock, the measure of wealth in pastoral cultures. Older men, generally have more animals, and can pay for girls as young as 8 years old. The fate of a “child bride” is not easy: she will be a virtual serf, with no choice but to bear as many babies as her owner-husband can produce.
Educated women are respected assets to the community instead of being treated as property, students gain value as educated persons. According to the United Nations, the birth rate typically drops by 50 % in just one generation, when girls and women have a basic education.