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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Female freedom has an expiration date - Being 35 and Single

An Argentine woman, documenting her relationships, begins an intimate investigation searching for love and answers: must she settle down or continue to be free spirit in order to be happy?

Being 35 and single, a film by Paula Schargorodsky

Does one's happiness depend on her marital status? In most parts of the world, women have increasingly more choices than their mothers and grandmothers. Like Paula Schargorodsky, most women are now able to realize their dreams, personal or professional goals without a significant amount of social constraints.


But the female freedom has an expiration date, Schargorodsky states in her short film titled "Female Freedom has an expiration date- Being 35 and Single"  available at the end of this article. This heartfelt film has expressed the social discomfort that most  30-years-old and up  single women  living in Cameroon - and most likely across Sub-Saharan Africa , faces.

For Schargorodsky's grandmother, the reason why she is not getting married as "everyone's else" is because "[she]'s there with her head in the clouds." In Cameroon, similar statements can be easily heard from concerned parents, relatives or (married) friends who genuinely (or not) will not hesitate to remind single adults to find a mate. Some may go as far as suggesting to procreate outside the constraints of a committed relationship.

Based on the popular wisdom, getting married young is better. Moreover, one's gender and country's income are two important factors that determine the marriage age. Across the globe, men get married much later than women and people living in developed countries marry later, Priceconomics demonstrates.

Interestingly enough, the worldwide trend is that people are getting married later than their parents-if not at all. The average age for marriage across the globe has steadily risen since the 1970s, from 21.8 to 24.7 years, the Time reports.

"The timing, prevalence and stability of marriage and unions not only shape the reproductive behaviour of women and men but are also linked to wider social and economic changes such as improvements in women's educational attainment and labour force participation," the U.N. Department of Economics and Social Affairs states. 

The Priceconomics research reports that women commonly marry very young in some developing countries. 20% of women get married by age 18 in thirty nine countries. A full 10% of them by age 15 in twenty countries. In only 2 countries, 10% of men get married before the age of 18.

In many countries, marriage before the age 18 is still common among women, even though the prevalence of adolescent marriage has significantly decreased among women, the U.N. states. If adolescent marriage is rare among males, polygamy was still legal or generally accepted in 33 countries, 25 in Africa and 7 in Asia, in 2009.

Unlike millions of young girls and teens, adults around the world have the freedom to make the lifestyle choice to commit themselves to one person or not. And they do. Simultaneously, men and women decide to marry at a later date or they opt for a consensual union, while the number of never-married adults is on the rise in some countries.

The bottom line is one's marital status may influence one's happiness but it does not guarantee it. Life is what one makes it. Unless there were one (or more) siblings with you in your mother's womb, one is born alone and one will leave this earth the same way.

As the marriage worldwide trend shows, there may be a preferred time to settle down depending of one's gender and country's income, but there is no "right" age to make the decision. Each marital status offers unique benefits we must honor and appreciate, whether the person is a male or a female.