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What We Can Do to Bring Back Our Girls

Photograph by © AP

There have been few news stories that have moved me quite as much as the recent kidnapping of 276 Nigerian girls on April 14th by the terror group Boko Haram. The girls, all students at an all-girls school, were taken in the night after the terrorists overtook the school’s security guards. Despite the Nigerian government’s best efforts, there has been no sign of the girls since.

Every day I anxiously look to the newspaper, hoping the headline will read, “We brought back our girls.” Weeks after the kidnapping, that headline has yet to appear. I’m concerned that it never will. I can only imagine what those girls are going through, if they’re alive at all.

I’ve been reading the story of these girls, as if one of them were my own. When someone’s child is taken, every mother feels it. We want to hug our own children and keep them close. We think of the mothers whose daughters were taken. We say, “I can only imagine…” before trailing off knowing the truth is too hard to imagine.

We can raise smart, kind girls who will look out for one another and value education for all.

I’ve been reading the news coverage of the story, hoping they’ll report a resolution that involves the girls being brought home to safety. I’ve looked to Melinda Gates’ fabulous op ed for CNN for inspiration. But still one question remains, how can it be so threatening to some for women to be educated? If this terror group doesn’t believe their own daughters should be educated, they must not believe mine should be educated. "It’s 2014," I think to myself. "This can’t just happen." I’m angry that it has.

There’s very little I can personally do except stay informed and encourage my own government to act on behalf of these girls, but as mothers we can do so much more. It’s up to us to raise our girls to know they are just as bright and just as deserving of an education as boys. We can raise smart, kind girls who will look out for one another and value education for all. And we can remember that even in 2014, there are people who want women to be terrified of receiving an education. And we won’t listen.

An education is a fundamental right, not a privilege. No matter what country you are in, what part of the world you live, you have the right to learn. We must always remember how lucky our girls are that they get to learn. It’s not always true, even in 2014.

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