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Paving the way

for a younger generation

By Karen Coleman, Kaz Design Works

Three decades ago a young girl na med Tahani Aburaneh was living a hu mble life in a Jordanian refugee ca mp. Suddenly, at the tender age of 15, her life changed. Wanting a better life for their daughter, Tahani’s parents had agreed to an arranged marriage with her first cousin who had returned to Jordan from Canada to look for a wife.


rranged marriages are not unusual in Jordan, but the thought of leaving all her family and friends to live in a strange country in which she barely knew more than a few words seemed daunting. So, to maintain some measure of independence and control of her own life, Tahani agreed to the marriage on the condition that her new husband pay for her to learn English and put her through high school. This was probably the best decision of her life. Coming from one of the most educated countries in the world, Tahani excelled at school despite the initial language barrier and the culture shock on arriving in Canada. Learning a new language wasn’t the biggest challenge; instead, what set her apart from her peers was her marital status. While her friends were out partying and drinking once school work was done, Tahani was cooking, keeping house and looking after her husband. After a while, she found the constant question, “Are you really married” quite overwhelming. To Tahani, although not something she chose for herself, her way of life seemed normal; she was following what her parents thought

best for her, and she knew no difference. But to her peers, her way of life was strange and intriguing. Having no time to socialize, she kept to herself and became somewhat withdrawn. Even to her family back in Jordan, her life in Canada seemed strange. Back then, marrying at such a young age wasn’t unusual, but it wasn’t the norm for a Jordanian girl to continue her schooling. In Tahani’s culture, women were expected to stay home and have children. Her family didn’t understand her desire to study and work as well as carrying out her wifely duties. She was determined to prove she could do both. And, three years into her marriage, when Tahani had her first child, as was expected, she continued to study and work, calling on her mother to help with babysitting while she completed her certification. Although the same high education is available to girls as well as boys in Jordan, girls and boys are still segregated at school, and this continues into the adult work place. Opportunities for women to work have improved over the years with many women now pursuing prestigious careers such as

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14 Powerful Women Winter 2011

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Powerful Women Magazine Winter 2011  
Powerful Women Magazine Winter 2011  

In the 2011Winter issue of Powerful Women Magazine, you can read about international women, their challenges and accomplishments. Find tips...