On April 15, dozens of gunmen stormed the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria, and abducted more than 200 students who were asleep in their dormitories. They are still missing. This afternoon, Girl Rising and Amy Poehler's Smart Girl initiative hosted a Call to Action Google hangout to discuss what is going on and how we can help.
What is the latest information about what's happening?
There is no consensus on exactly how many girls have been kidnapped, but we know that over 200 girls were taken to an unknown location three weeks ago. The Nigerian president does not have much information, and the authorities have not been forthcoming. There had been a false statement that the girls had been rescued, and since then the military has been cautious about giving information. There have been rumors that some of them have died, have gotten ill, were married, or are out of the country.
This mass kidnapping is not an isolated incident. Though the problem is just now gaining international attention, girls have been getting kidnapped for months. In fact, eight more girls were kidnapped yesterday.
Who are these girls?
The girls who have been kidnapped are truly extraordinary. Before the incident, they were taking exams that would have lead them to a university, unlike most girls in Northeast Nigeria who are not able to go to school at all. Instead, girls typically get married starting at age 12 and 13. Only 3 percent of girls make it to college.
When girls go to school, they get married, have kids later, and live healthier, safer lives. According to Girl Rising, educating girls can break cycles of poverty in just one generation. Now, even more Nigerian parents are skeptical about sending their girls -- and boys -- to school because it is so dangerous.
How can I help?
Girls Rising and Amy Poehler's Smart Girl initiative identified 3 easy ways to help aid the situation in Nigeria right now.
- Raise your voice on social media. The #BringBackOurGirls hashtag has gone viral globally on Twitter, and you can help continue the movement to get the story out. Tweet or post on Facebook using that hashtag or change your avatar to spread the word. Your impact can truly make a difference. In fact, CNN has sent more reporters cover the kidnapping in Nigeria because of the social media response.
- Sign a petition. There is a Change.org petition that currently has over 300,000 signatures. Help it reach the one million mark.
- Contribute financially. There are several organizations that are raising money to help. One such group is Catapult, a start-up advocacy group for girls' and women's rights. You can help them reach their goal of raising $25,000 toward the cause.
For more information on the efforts to help bring back these Nigerian girls, check out Girl Rising's action kit.