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Wedding-vows1

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For quite some time, I knew that my friend was happily married after her glamorous church wedding in 2008. We have known each other since High School and are still good friends. One day as we were chatting, I asked her about the children and their dad. Her reply was “the children are fine but maybe you should know that I and my husband are no longer together. We separated a few years ago and I am on the road to take care of my children,”.  I must say that her response shocked me for a moment. Her revelation added to the long list of the couples  know that are battling with divorce cases barely a few years after taking the ‘till death do us apart’ marriage oath including the latest divorce case of a prominent  Pastor in Uganda

Ideally, one would imagine that these marriages are built on strong Christian values as reflected in oath. To love and to care irrespective of the conditions; for better and worse, rich and poor, in sickness and health. Consequently, such marriages are supposed to be the holy union of two people where oneness, companionship and mutual respect are stressed. It is also assumed that the interests of the husband and wife are one and whatever is for the benefit of the one is for the benefit of the other.

On the contrary, this is not the case and for long, feminists have always argued that  marriage is a social contract that privileges men’s interests over women. Meanwhile, other related discussion on social media on why most marriages are not working now reveal different views by both men and women.

But What is the Origin of  Marriage vows?  

Although the bible upholds marriage, for example in Genesis 2:24 “For this reason a man will leave his father and his mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh”; Proverbs 18:22 “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favour from the Lord” ;  it does not  mention that vows are a requirement or expected in marriage.

The most commonly used marriage vows in the Christian marriages today can be traced in the Book of Common Prayer  that was laid down by Thomas Cranmer, the  first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury  in 1549. It is also reported that part of the vows were taken from the Catholic medieval rites  such as the Sarum Rite, a set of procedures followed for celebrating any kind of Christian public worship, including masses, liturgies and special occasions such as weddings.

 Along with the vows, couples also make ‘Declarations’ which confirm that they will always love and care for each other in a way that will please God for the rest of their lives thus ‘till death do us apart’. This gives  an indication of the permanence and strength of the marriage covenant.

Beyond the vows, marriage is a also social and legal contract between two individuals. The contractual marriage agreement usually implies that the couple has legal obligations to each other throughout their lives or until they decide to divorce. In some countries especially in Europe, legal marriage and marriage before God are separate events overseen by two separate authorities. This means that the state has a stake in the union of two individuals since the laws that govern marriage are drafted by the state rather than the church. Infarct, when the marriage fails, what follows are the long court battles to secure a legal divorce.

Although I believe in marriage, I still have several unanswered questions. Are Christian marriages more of a legal union than a lifelong holy companionship? And are marriage vows unrealistic and wishful thinking?

 

 

 

 

 

SDGsThe development and adoption of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT) and big data have accelerated exponentially in the past few years. These technologies have presented opportunities, but also challenges and risks, to internet users worldwide. During the 2018 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Paris, the contribution of these technologies towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was highlighted.

During the session on Artificial Intelligence for Human Rights and SDGs, different stakeholders offered their unique understanding of the impact of applying big data and AI technologies for measuring and monitoring indicators and targets for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For example, big data presents opportunities for improved programme planning and implementation based on real-time feedback generated by millions of users and devices around the world. When combined with other traditional data sources like surveys, big data has the potential to shed light on societal trends and global patterns.

Likewise, the potential for AI to boost productivity and economic growth is much larger than that of previous general-purpose technologies. On average, the current simulation indicates that it could boost world output by USD 13 trillion by 2030, lifting GDP by 1.2% a year. It also facilitates access to information and freedom of expression and can be used to detect human rights violations, discrimination, unfair treatment and biases that are normally linked to decisions made by human beings. It was argued that this presents great potential to foster open and inclusive societies and promote peace, gender equality and justice.

Emerging technologies pose human rights concerns too

On the other hand, various concerns associated with the deployment of these emerging technologies were also raised. With more than 50% of the world population offline, the majority of whom are living in developing countries, particularly in Africa, many doubted how these technologies can promote inclusive and sustainable development. How can we all move forward when we are leaving 50% behind? Having parts of the world that lack basic connectivity will hinder the adoption and application of new technologies in developing countries.

Similarly, emerging technologies can perpetuate and reinforce existing human rights violations as well as enable new ones. The fact that devices and sensors can collect massive amounts of personal data raises critical issues related to privacy and cybersecurity. The use of information obtained through big data, for example, is one of the major problems regardless of whether the information is exposed consensually or non-consensually by millions of users. Likewise, AI mass data processing poses potential threats to human rights, security and social cohesion.

The stakeholder dialogue identified several best practices that should be taken into consideration when applying digital technologies for sustainable development. They called for collaboration among different stakeholders such as government officials, technologists, civil society, academics and others to ensure that these technologies are deployed in ways that protect user privacy and security, and network resiliency while fostering innovation. Stakeholders should communicate openly about the impact new technologies have on the public and existing networks and find ways to work together to develop future-looking policies.

When systems, products and services that leverage big data and AI are being developed and deployed, ethical considerations and human rights should be taken into account from the outset. Awareness among users of the data generated by these technologies and knowledge of the benefits and risks deriving from them are also key. The forum also called for a people-centred digital transformation which takes into account all members of society including youth, women, and people with disabilities. This should not stop at examining how people can be reskilled and economically supported for the future, but how they can be prepared to be good users, content creators and innovators.

This article was  first published  on APC website

In 2011, I wrote an article about women confronting  VAW using ICTs  that featured a story of how women in the olden days creatively used local platforms to combat violence against women. The 59-year-old woman told us that when she was growing up as a young girl, women used to look for a strategic location in the village to broadcast their messages. This location was usually an anthill. The woman would stand on top of the anthill and shout about her husband’s bad behaviours. She would say “my husband is bad, she beats me when I give meat to the children, he is a glutton, he abuses me all the time….”. This was to let everyone in the village hear about her husband’s abusive behaviors. This would prompt the villagers to gossip about him and local musicians would compose songs about him. This shame would cause him to eventually change his ways.

Today, technology especially social media has provided us with much more advanced platforms compared to an anthill where we can broad cast our message globally. I have previously shared similar cases where women like Prisca Baike  have used technology to  amplify their struggles against violence.

Likewise,  a former student at Makerere University used the only tool that was in her possession- a smart phone and took a self of  University administrator who forcefully grabbed her boobs and started licking them when she went to pick her academic documents. Read the full story.

She later circulated the picture on social media and exposed the act. Her actions attracted support  including the University  Vice Chancellor applauded her for exposing the errant officer who harassed her.

Consequently the officer has been  arrested and we hope  justice will be served.

Image Source:https://www.yourmechanic.com/article/the-guide-to-right-of-way-laws-in-georgia-by-valerie-mellemaThis morning as I was  sorting and organizing  books on my desk, I came across one of the magazines by a regional youth organization. I flipped through the pages  to see  its content and I picked interest in an interview with a young  and prominent female journalist.

Among the many questions that she was asked, there was this question about SDG goal number 5 on  achieving gender equality and this is the question:

The UN adopted  a set of 17 goals, one of which is achieving gender equality by 20130. Do you think women in the media industry  have made progress towards reducing the gender gap?

Her response: …we have looked at this emancipation debate as a right of way even when you have not worked hard, you want to be there. You cannot say I am a woman and therefore I need to sit on this committee. Society should not afford us favors because we are women.

I found her response disturbing given the fact that she is a woman. I remembered the words of a fierce, unapologetic  African feminist Hope Chigudu who told young women that even that trouser you are putting on, someone fought for it.  I think we have grown up in a privileged environment and have taken gender equality for granted. The struggle for gender equality cannot be dismissed as a right of way! Women have come along way and it is very unfortunate that instead of standing on the shoulders of our fore mothers who paved a way for us, we are calling it a right of way. Really???

I am deeply concerned that  as young women and girls, we have quickly forgotten that the basic rights and freedoms we are enjoying today including education, citizenship, employment and many others were fought for by our fore mothers.

I challenge all women and girls to read the history and struggles of the women movement.

– “you can’t really know where you are going until you know where you have been.” Maya Angelou

Image Source:The Guide to Right-of-Way Laws in Georgia