Tuesday marked six months since the Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group, Boko Haram, kidnapped 276 Nigerian girls from a boarding school in the northeastern village of Chibok. Three months ago, Boko Haram released a video showing its leader standing in front of armored vehicles mocking the Bring Back Our Girls movement. World leaders and celebrities promised us that swift action would be taken, but 219 girls remain in captivity waiting to be sold into marriage.
Protestors in Abuja, Nigeria went to the President’s Villa to rally in support government action but were barricaded by heavily armed riot police. Minister of Women’s Affairs, Hajiya Zainab Maina, addressed the protestors saying, “The government is doing all it can to make sure that these girls are rescued and back to their families alive. It is not as if the government is sitting back and watching.”
Mkeki Mutah, an uncle of two of the missing girls, said, “As far as our girls are concerned, they have been abandoned.” Lauren Wolfe, the Director of Women Under Siege, commented on the decline in public support for the Bring Back Our Girls movement. “The story of Bring Back Our Girls has stalled for a global audience because there has been little progress in finding them. And so, people have found other things about which to worry: serious things…and then the usual fluff, like how much Kim Kardashian is making on her new Facebook game.”
I am the same age as many of the girls who were abducted and I feel that it is important for me, as a young woman, to speak out on their behalf, in support of Bring Back Our Girls movement. We know that when girls are provided safe access to education, they become empowered to fulfill their true potential as agents of change, vital economic actors, scientists, engineers, doctors, lawyers, and politicians. Education is the key to transform the social, political, and economic landscape of a nation, but it requires protection. Governments must commit to providing safe access to education. The world cannot afford to lose 219 leaders, innovators, and change-makers. We must confront violence against girls. We must continue to stand in solidarity and set a new precedent for action. I know that maintaining this momentum is crucial. I send this message to governments, ministers, and humanitarian actors alike: girls are not second-class victims to a crime that has already been forgotten. We are worth fighting for, and the response needs to be in equal in proportion to the devastation caused by this violent extremist group.