3 minutes reading time (542 words)

Bring back those girls - and ensure their education!

UNICEF educate a girlThe kidnapping of school girls in Nigeria, the shooting of Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan, the attacking of girls attending school in Afghanistan – all have the same theme: trying to keep girls away from education.

 

But why is it often the girls being the target? And shouldn’t we go and do something about the reasons behind those attacks instead of responding only to the incidents? The response to the kidnapping in Nigeria is important – but it should not stop with freeing those girls!

 

The world is finally paying attention to the April kidnapping of more than 200 school girls in Nigeria. The Nigerian government has so far been unable to locate and rescue the girls. Even worse – it only added to the confusion when it falsely announced that all girls are back with their families.

 

Thanks to the social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls that was started by Ify Elueze, a Nigerian student living currently in Bonn (Germany), the kidnapping finally made international news.

And after the horrendous announcement from the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, that he is planning to sell the school girls as sex slaves and for forced marriage, politicians finally started to react. The Nigerian President, Jonathan Goodluck, feels pressured to act, and the governments of the U.S. and the UK offered help in finding the girls.

 

This incident in Nigeria is not isolated. In 2012, the Taliban attack on a young Pakistan girl, Malala Yousafzai, made international headlines. Her crime was attending school and being outspoken about education for girls. Other incidents we don’t remember anymore or the media just stopped paying attention. In Afghanistan, the Taliban repeatedly threatened girls who to school.

 

All those incidents – and all those we don’t even hear about – have one thing in common: they are against girls receiving proper education. The groups and people behind those incidents see educated young women as a threat. Education in general, and especially educated women are a major threat to many entrenched groups around the world. Women raise the next generation – and educated women will raise their kids to want education, so it has a multiplying effect.

 

As Nelson Mandela already put it: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

But change is the last thing those groups want. More education means that it is harder to control people or to dictate their actions or to abuse religion as an excuse. No major religion supports those actions and only as long as people stay uneducated and illiterate those groups can thrive.

 

To really make a change in the world, women and girls must be educated, as must all people. Reacting to the kidnapping in Nigerian is certainly important (so, please go and sign the petition if you haven’t yet!), but the even bigger issue is ensuring education of girls around the globe, and reducing the attacks against women.

The world must stand up and focus on the absolute need for education, especially the right of young women to receive a proper education.

 

Education is, and should be, an accessible human right for everyone.

 

(This is a blog version of my earlier article at CDN on this)

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