#BringBackOurGirls

Photo Credit: Naijamayor, Flickr Creative Commons
Photo Credit: Naijamayor, Flickr Creative Commons

The world was shocked when on April 14, Boko Haram Islamic militants burst into a school in the Chibok community in Borno state, Nigeria. The militants kidnapped 276 girls from their beds. Only 53 girls managed to escape, and 223 girls are still missing.

Schools should be places students can learn without fear.

In Northern Nigeria, girls endure violence to receive an education. In 2008, the net enrollment of girls in secondary school was 22%, which is less than a quarter of girls receiving a secondary education. Child marriage is rife, with 78% of girls marrying by age 18. The region also has the highest rate of fistula in the country.

Boko Haram has led a murderous campaign against education in Nigeria. In Borno state alone, more than 800 classrooms have been destroyed. Boko Haram, which translates to ‘Western education is a sin’, does not want to see girls attend school in Nigeria. The story of Boko Haram is not new. Like the Taliban, and various other terrorist groups that have attacked girls’ education, they are afraid of the power of an educated girl. They are afraid of the power of education. The independence and freedom of women and girls terrifies them. It is their fear that leads to them suppressing the power of girls.

Educating girls has been proven to be the highest return investment for solving poverty. An extra year of primary school boosts a girl’s income by ten to twenty percent. An extra year of secondary school boosts a girl’s income by fifteen to twenty-five percent. When a girl in the developing world receives seven or more years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children. Children born to educated mothers are twice as likely to survive past age five. Educated girls are more likely to change the world.

Why would Boko Haram be afraid of girls’ education, when there are countless benefits?

It is believed that the Islamic militants have had mass wedding ceremonies where they forced the girls into marriage. It is also believed that they have sold some of the kidnapped girls for 2000 naira, or $12. Not only have these girls been denied their right to an education, but they have been forced into a marriage, against their will and have been trafficked.

No girl should be denied access to a quality education.

No girls should be forced into a marriage.

No girl should be trafficked.

The world needs to wake up to the severity of this issue. The voices of the 276 girls kidnapped can not and should not be silenced. The voices of the 276 girls kidnapped can not and should not go unnoticed. The voices of the 276 girls kidnapped and should not be ignored.

The kidnapping of the Chibok girls could have happened anywhere. It could have been your daughter, sister or even your niece. Recently, eight other girls have been kidnapped by the militants, highlighting how serious of an issue this is and why the International Community must get involved. We need to stand up for the Chibok girls so that this mass abduction will not inhibit the school attendance of other girls.

Stand up for the Chibok girls so their voices can be heard.

Stand up for the Chibok girls so they can return to school.

Stand up for the Chibok girls so they can be freed.

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Cover Photo Credit: Rosemary Lodge, Flickr Creative Commons

The World Needs Midwives and It’s Time to Act Now

Happy International Day of the Midwife!

Njideka is a midwife in northern Nigeria – one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth. Here, one in 23 women die in childbirth and one in ten newborns do not survive. Picture: Lindsay Mgbor/Department for International Development
Njideka is a midwife in northern Nigeria – one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth. Here, one in 23 women die in childbirth and one in ten newborns do not survive.
Picture: Lindsay Mgbor/Department for International Development

Today we celebrate the women and men who through their work save the lives of mothers and newborns every day. Midwives are the cornerstone to the health and well-being of families.

Around the world midwives play an essential role for the health of women who are planning their families and women who are expecting a baby. From the little Swedish west coast town I am currently in, to the rural areas of Ethiopia, midwives are critical to the survival of mothers and newborns.

Approximately 290,000 women and 3 million infants die each year due to highly preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. For every woman who dies, 30 more suffer from long-lasting injuries, such as obstetric fistula. When a mother survives, the chance for her baby’s survival increases dramatically. Yet, every year 40 million women give birth at home without any access to care.

If all mothers-to-be received care from a well-educated midwife with necessary resources, most of maternal and newborn deaths could be prevented!

Families grow and communities thrive when mothers and newborns are healthy and have access to the necessary care, nutrition and information they need to continue to lead healthy lives. Women make up half of the world’s population and caring for their basic needs and the needs of their newborns are necessary to ensuring that women and their children can live to their full potential.

Muzhda (29) a mid wife at the Sar-e-Hause medical health clinic speaks with twenty two year old Soraya and 5 month old baby Zainab. Photo: Graham Crouch / World Bank
Muzhda, a midwife at the Sar-e-Hause medical health clinic, in Parwan Province, Afghanistan, speaks with twenty two year old Soraya and 5 month old baby Zainab.
Photo: Graham Crouch / World Bank

The World Needs Midwives!

As we get closer to the due date of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and as we plan ahead to end poverty by 2030, there are certain priorities that need to be set straight.

Midwives play a very important role in reaching most (if not all) of the MDGs. The goal to reduce maternal mortality by 75% by 2015 cannot be achieved without midwives, and currently we don’t have enough of them!

It is estimated that 350,000 midwives are needed to achieve universal access to maternity care.

Midwives help to ensure that families are healthy and capable to move themselves out of poverty. Healthy mothers have healthier children and when families are healthy they have a greater chance to send their children to school. Midwives empower women by enabling them to make healthy and informed choices, and with universal access to maternity care through midwifery, we can save the lives of mothers and newborns everywhere.

We must invest in midwives and act now.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Join the conversation today on Twitter using #IDM2014 – a special Twitter chat marathon hosted by various organizations. When: 8am – 2pm ET
  • UNFPA and Girls’ Globe are hosting the last hour of the marathon focusing on why midwives matter for youth. Hashtag: #IDM2014. When: 1pm ET
  • Tell world leaders what you think! This week is Global Action Week. Through the United Nation’s My World Survey, you can tell world leaders what you think top priorities are for our world.
  • The conversation continues with #ICMLive. FHI360, Johnson & Johnson and the International Confederation of Midwives are leading a curated newsletter to provide live coverage of key conversations throughout May and during the 2014 ICM Congress in Prague, Czech Republic. Sign up here.

Global Action Week

May 4th-11th is Global Action Week. Global Action Week is an international focal point for education with events taking place in over 100 countries highlighting the importance of education for all. With this week, GCE chapters around the world work to raise awareness and create political will through advocacy to ensure that all children around the world have access to education. This year’s global theme is Equal Right, Equal Opportunity focusing on education and children with disabilities.

Globally, there are nearly 66 million girls out of school. Advocacy is a critical component to advancing the global conversation for girls’ education. To celebrate Global Action Week, we are partnering with the Global Campaign for Education, United States Chapter to highlight the importance of education for girls.

Join the Global Conversation!

#GirlsDreamBig Twitter Chat

Google + Hangout, Passion to Action: Girls Lead for Education

How are you advocating for girls’ education?

Tweet us this week @GirlsGlobe

 

Cover Photo Credit: One Laptop per Child, Flickr Creative Commons