On the 14th of April 2014 there were reports that over 200 girls were abducted as they prepared for their physics examinations in their school in Chibok, Borno State, in the North-East of Nigeria. While there were several reports available on the internet, it took a while before public attention was drawn to the subject and fears remain that the delay led to the difficulty experienced in the rescue mission for the girls. Several local and international news reports on the abduction of the girls can be found online:
The documentary film, 'Take Me Back To School', is an advocacy tool to support development initiatives towards the promotion of girls’ education to prevent the early marriage of girls. The documentary film has been screened in some communities and continues to screen to inspire girls and to empower women and other key influencers to positively influence their communities to enrol more girls in school.
However, credit must be given to the social media push that eventually gave the subject the global attention it received. In the week that the incidence occurred, there were only skeletal reports of the incidence and the reports ended up exposing conflicting information on the number of girls that were abducted and the number that successfully escaped. The lack of credible updates on the progress of the rescue mission for the girls provoked a social media frenzy which broke out on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube and many other social media platforms. Nigerian men and women were passionately expressing their concerns and desperation to get the Nigerian Government to secure the rescue of the girls. Series of campaigns emerged to mobilize Nigerians to demand better action from the Nigerian Government and as the days went by, series of posts and tweets were unleashed calling on the Nigerian Government to expedite the rescue of the abducted girls. Successively, Nigerian women started to mobilize protests in Abuja, Kaduna, and Lagos States across the country. The passionate, vibrant, and emotional social media frenzy #BringBackOurGirls and #SaveOurGirls went viral, and the international community joined in.
Eventually, women and girls (and men too) were engaged in protests in London, Washington, Canada, Australia, and other countries. The support from the International Community was also reflected in various social media campaigns by famous celebrities around the world. It was highly commendable to see the potential of the internet to mobilize community action on various levels; first on the national level and on the global level. The famous #BringBackOurGirls hash tag made a world of difference in this global action to demand the rescue of over 200 abducted girls in Nigeria. Over a million supporters signed the petition to mobilize world leaders to take action on the rescue of the abducted girls.Read Here
The internet became flooded with resources; News Reports, Blogs, YouTube Videos, Facebook Posts, Tweets and Photographs around the subject of the abducted schoolgirls. In addition, the international community mobilized support towards the rescue mission for the girls. Wikipedia also provides some information on the subject. Read Here
Since 2014 when 276 schoolgirls were abducted by Boko Haram, 57 girls escaped, and 80 girls have been freed in exchange for Boko Haram leaders. But 100 girls are still missing, and the traumatized few who escaped captivity recall some of the girls were forced to convert to Islam, some had to marry the jihadists3 and some were sold as 'brides' for as little as $12. While the world has moved on from the Chibok case, Nigerian women have continued to lead the advocacy for stronger action from the Nigerian Government to intensify the rescue of the remaining girls. Some development partners, civil society organisations, youth groups, media and concerned individuals have remained resilient and determined to keep the girls in the public eye until they are rescued and reunited with their families.
While the global cry #BringBackOurGirls continues, we pray for the health and safety of the abducted girls, and we hope for their successful rescue and reconciliation with their families who continue to suffer deep pain and despair. Continue to act and mobilize global voices to tweet #BringBackOurGirls.
Take Action to Make Girls' Voices Count! Demand #BringBackOurGirls