3 Great Female-Led Campaigns To Rescue The Kidnapped Nigerian Girls From Boko Haram
Three weeks ago, Islamist militant group Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 Chibok girls from a school in northern Nigeria. Late Sunday night, eight more girls, between 12 and 15 years old, were abducted from Warabe village. Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau, appeared in a video on Monday, obtained by Agence France Presse, announcing his intention to sell into slavery all of the girls his group had taken.
The international media was slow to give the horrific kidnappings the attention they deserved, but as coverage grew, so did the level of outrage. Both the United States and the United Kingdom have offered the Nigerian government help with tracking down the girls, although they have stopped short of providing details as to what this help might be. The United Nations and Amnesty International have also added their voices to the mix, calling out Boko Haram's actions as heinous violations of international law.
But it's not escaping the world's notice that response has been slow and lackluster. It's imperative that these girls are found, and some of the world's most high-profile women are making sure that international governments don't forget it.
Here are three of the most awesome campaigns out there pushing to keep the plight of these girls in the public eye — and some of them you can get in on too.
1. AMY POEHLER'S SMART GIRLS
Amy Poehler's awesome Smart Girls initiative is an online community aimed at inspiring confidence in young women and encouraging them to embrace who they are. Also led by Meredith Walker and Amy Miles, Smart Girls takes on all sorts of social media outreach and is also hosting a summer camp this June.
On Tuesday, Smart Girls partnered with Girl Rising, a feature film and global campaign for girls' education, to host a "Call to Action" Google Hangout in response to the kidnapping of the school girls in Nigeria. The guest panel includesd Smart Girls' Walker, two representatives from Girl Rising, correspondents from The Daily Beast and the BBC, and the senior project manager from A World at School, Gretel Truong.
Harnessing the #bringbackourgirls hashtag, the panel discussed what's happening and what can be done to help.
First appearing on April 23, #bringbackourgirls has been the rallying cry for those pushing for a greater response to the kidnappings. Top celebrities and political figures including Mary J. Blige, Malala Yousafzai, Hillary Clinton and Whoopi Goldberg have tweeted the hashtag, which has been used hundreds of thousands of times. Hop on your Twitter app and join the conversation.
3. HARD-HITTING PETITIONS
When those in power are slow to act, you can be sure that someone else will be proactive enough to start a petition. In this case, there's two you can sign on to.
This petition on Change.org is headed up by a young Nigerian woman studying in Germany. She's calling on the world to unite to recover these girls, and so far almost 316,000 people have added their names to the list.
There's also a White House petition calling on the Obama Administration to join forces with the UN to bring the girls home. So far, just over 16,500 people have signed on.