276 sweet smiles
276 young, intelligent, emotional, sometimes disobedient, loud, carefree, quiet, careful daughters full of successes, failures, dreams and regrets.
It’s scary that the Boko Haram (how dare their name get any more credit to it) are getting exactly what they wanted – schools closing, girls taken out of their schools and hidden, governmental silence, paranoia & fear, and the lack of a search.
These girls’ lives matter, but because they are girls – something they did not decide – their government and many people in their country, as well as the world couldn’t care less about their whereabouts.
I worry, not only for these girls and their families, but for every brave girl who attempts to step foot in a school – probably fearful that they will experience the same fate.
All because they wanted to change the narrative of girls in Nigeria.
Children under the age of 15 account for 45% of the country’s population. Out of children aged 6-11, 40% are not in school, with even worse rates for girls. 60% of the unschooled children are girls. There is 1 girl to every 2 boys, and some states it is 1:3 in schools. In some schools, there are 100 students to every teacher. To put that in perspective, that would be about 25% of the average elementary school’s population, all given to one teacher to educate. Not only are most girls forced to stay at home and help out around the house, but those who are in school face staggering numbers for education, without even mentioning the risk of being kidnapped by terrorists who cannot bear to see educated women. [ UNICEF ]
It has been one year, and although some of the girls have been rescued, there are still 219 in captivity, sold as child brides, and many girls across Nigeria and the globe who face the same fate.
It is important to stay current on world events. Not so you can keep up in conversation, but to pray for, advocate for, and change the narrative. As a woman and an educator, the education of girls across the world is of utmost importance to me personally. To learn more about educating girls, to donate, and to join the fight, visit some of these websites: Educate Girls (India) / Women’s Global Education Project (Senegal & Kenya) / The Malala Fund (global) / Girl Rising (global) and a couple very informative documentaries: Girl Rising & Half the Sky.
More than anything – pray. Pray that these girls are returned and they feel emboldened to go to school in the face of opposition. If you can, join movements, donate money to nonprofits who are in these communities, talk to your lawmakers, and spread awareness to change the statistics, because each of these numbers represents a human life. Don’t allow “out of sight, out of mind” allow you to ignore these sweet girls (giving myself this reminder too!).
“Extremists have shown what frightens them most: a girl with a book.”
– Malala Yousafzai