From where I stand: “I don’t want to marry off my daughter at an early age – I want her to attend school”

Date: Thursday, November 21, 2019

Firyal Cizawi, a Syrian refugee residing in Turkey, shares how her perspective changed on gender equality and child, early and forced marriage (CEFM) after attending an awareness-raising workshop on women’s rights under Turkish law and the negative consequences of CEFM. The workshop was led by Turkish civil society organization Flying Broom as part of the EU-UN Women regional programme on ending violence against women in the Western Balkans and Turkey, “Implementing Norms, Changing Minds,” funded by the European Union.  

Firyai
Firyal Cizawi. Photo: Flying Broom Women's Communication and Research Association

Quote

We came to Turkey five years ago from Nebek, a town in Damascus [the capital of Syria], to escape the warzone. My two daughters and two sons are also in Turkey. My sons are looking for jobs, and my elder daughter is married. My younger daughter is in 6th grade.

The early marriage workshops and gender workshops were striking. In these workshops, we learned about the negative consequences of early marriage and realized what we can do as women. We learned about Turkish law and our rights. As we learn about our rights and support mechanisms, we realize that there are other solutions. We become conscious thanks to these workshops. Even those who want to marry off their daughters at an early age can change their minds.

I don't want to marry off my daughter at an early age. I want her to attend school, complete her education, meet her needs and be self-sufficient. If she fails, I'll send her to a vocational school. I will support her education as long as she wants. Nevertheless, under no circumstances will I marry off my daughter before the age of 18. I want her to be able to meet her needs on her own.

Syrian society is also changing and have started to support children who want to study if the conditions are right. The communities here have begun to postpone marrying their daughters off until they are 18. They are becoming aware of the laws in Turkey.

In a sense, the decision-makers about marriage are men, in other words, fathers. That's why we need to work with them, too. However, as mothers become more conscious, they influence the fathers and change their minds. Therefore, workshops should be conducted both for mothers and fathers.”