On behalf of Soroptimist International of Hood River:
By now, thanks to social media, the world has heard about the Nigerian girls who were kidnapped from their boarding school by a fundamentalist group whose name roughly translates into “Western education is a sin.”
No one is quite sure what the fate of these girls will be, but from reports they will be married off or trafficked. It is a horrific crime against a group of girls with big dreams and bright futures.
Now the real question is, what else can be done? (Action Alert: http://bit.ly/act-now-bring-back-our-girls)
The reality is, beyond creating awareness and pressuring the Nigerian government to take action to rescue the girls, not much can be done by the average person who wants to help.
But here’s a thought: Why are fundamentalist groups such as Boko Haram in Nigeria or the Taliban in Pakistan targeting schools, especially schools that teach girls?
Because they are afraid.
These groups understand what the world is still waking up to: that educated women and girls will rise up to be their own people. They’ll make their own decisions: what to wear; who and when to marry; how many children to have; whether to have a profession.
Educated women and girls will not be vulnerable. They will not be subjugated. They will not have their human rights violated. Beyond their own self-determination, educated women and girls will rise up to help their sisters near and far.
That terrifies fundamentalist groups who aim to keep women and girls trapped in lives where they have no voice and no rights.
At some point media attention about the Nigerian girls will subside. But desperate conditions facing women and girls throughout the world will continue to exist. The best way to improve this situation is to support organizations that work every single day to ensure women and girls throughout the world have the basic human right of access to education.
Here’s hoping for the safe return of the Nigerian school girls, and a world where all women and girls have freedom and the resources they need to live happy, healthy and productive lives.
This editorial is provided by Soroptimist International of the Americas and LiveYourDream.org, an online volunteer network, empowering offline action, helping women and girls to live their dreams. The organizations provides online tools to take action in your own community, whether it’s to help women gain access to education, end violence against women, stop human trafficking, and more.
Soroptimist is a global volunteer organization that works to improve the lives of women and girls through award-winning programs that effect fundamental economic and social change.