The extremist group Boko Haram has been ravaging the country of Nigeria in the states of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa in attempts to keep girls from going to school. This insurgency from the extremist group has led to numerous car bombings, open fire attacks, and dormitory burnings. Their recent attacks have led to the kidnapping of more than 250 girls who are still missing to this day since April 14. With so little help from Nigeria’s own government, a modern day SOS has been sent out internationally across social media. The campaign features the words: “Bring Back Our Girls.”
To show support for the Nigerian families whose daughters have been killed or abducted, activists have taken photos of themselves holding signs with the campaign slogan. The purpose is to spread awareness of the social injustice that affects us all. Education activist, Malala Yousafzai notes, “We have been sent to this Earth as a community, and it is our responsibility to take care of each other.”
What we decide to do now will indeed set a precedent for the future. If we as a global community choose to ignore the extremist actions of Boko Haram, the consequences will be devastating.
The actions of Boko Haram are threats and attacks challenging a girl’s right to an education. Translated into English, Boko Haram means “Western education is sin.” The people involved in this extremist group seek to lessen the power of girls by making sure they remain submissive house slaves instead of independent, intelligent women. In a video threat, one of the leaders laughs at the idea that a girl should ever need to go to school.
Today, approximately two-thirds of the 880 million illiterate adults are women (savethechildern.org). If the opportunities are made available, however, girls who are educated are able to live healthier lives, have less chances of pregnancy at a young age, earn more in their professions, and are less dependent on others. Having an education allows women to make their own choices and prepares them to become more informed citizens. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) recognizes that “when all children have access to a quality education rooted in human rights and gender equality, it creates a ripple effect of opportunity that influences generations to come.” Progress starts with one generation of girls. But the violent actions of Boko Haram threaten Nigeria’s step toward making education accessible and safe for today’s and future generations.
There is no telling how extreme and powerful the actions of Boko Haram can become. This is why we, in the United States, must be aware of the situation in Nigeria. If we fail to recognize the severity of the attacks and kidnappings in Nigeria, who knows how much more injustice will continue to occur in that area if the Nigerian government is forced to act solely on its own. The safety of the girls will be compromised every time they are in a school setting. Parents will be less likely to send their girls to school if the kidnappings persist.
In order to protect the girls from these threats, the global community must take action to subdue the challenges made by Boko Haram. To encourage the progress of girls’ rights and to increase awareness about the kidnapping situation in Nigeria spread the word to “Bring Back Our Girls.” Keep yourself informed and be an advocate for the girls who strive to have their day in school. For more information check out: girlrising.com, ungei.org, or care.org.
Kathy Tun of Spring Valley is a sophomore at Illinois Wesleyan in Bloomington. She can be reached in care of this newspaper at P.O. Box 340, Princeton, IL 61356.