This morning in Oslo, 17 year old Malala Yousafzai became the youngest person ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her girls’ education advocacy. Today is not only an incredible moment for Malala, who in 2012 was targeted and wounded by Taliban militants for speaking out, but for the 62 million girls around the world who are not in school and should be. The issue of girls’ education is now on the minds of world leaders, policy makers, teachers, parents and students everywhere, and we celebrate that. But let us not forget that in too many places in the world, girls are still victims of violence.
October 14th marks six months since the abduction of 276 Nigerian schoolgirls by the violent sect Boko Haram. Taken by force from the Chibok Government Secondary School, none of the girls has been released. Fifty-seven have managed to escape, but 219 adolescent girls who risked their safety for the chance to go to school and learn remain held by captors who have publicly announced plans to sell them into slavery.
At Girl Rising, we believe that every girl should have an equal opportunity for an education – and to live free from the threat of physical violence to get it. And so, just like the parents who await their return in Abuja, we are frustrated and dismayed that this six-month milestone has been reached without the release or rescue of the Chibok girls.
To ensure that these girls are not forgotten, Girl Rising is joining Obiageli K. Ezekwesili and key advocates in Nigeria, including the parents of the Chibok girls, in calling for a Global Week of Action, October 11-18, to re-focus the world’s attention, to renew the call for an immediate safe return and to show these parents they are not alone. Supporters around the world will hold community vigils and spread the word at schools, workplaces and houses of worship. We hope you will join them.
The world must not move on. We must not let the months go by in silence. We call upon our community to raise your voices and unite around freeing these girls.
There is no better time to raise our voices. The International Day of the Girl is October 11. Every year, we use this day to celebrate the unlimited potential of girls. This year, the UN’s theme is Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending Cycles of Violence. What happened in Chibok epitomizes the kind of violence we must bring to an end, by standing together against violence everywhere.
We know that amplifying local voices can lead to global change. We invite individuals and organizations around the world to speak up by changing their social media avatars and signing this petition calling on the Nigerian Government and world leaders to #BringBackOurGirls, in a public show of strength and solidarity with the missing girls and those working to bring them safely home. Beginning October 11th, we will be tweeting and posting in support of the #BringBackOurGirls movement and sharing knowledge about the power of girls’ education.
Girl Rising stands with #ChibokGirls. Stand with us.