We must understand how the struggle of Burkinabe women today is part of the worldwide struggle of all women and, beyond that, part of the struggle for the full rehabilitation of our continent. The condition of women is therefore at the heart of the question of humanity itself, here, there, and everywhere. – Thomas Sankara
Flight MH370 disappeared out of the sky and there was untold news coverage.
Chaos erupts in Ukraine without Russia even using its military might. Daily coverage.
A ferry containing hundreds of students sinks. Again untold coverage.
Two hundred and thirty plus students are kidnapped from a school in Northern Nigeria. Minimal coverage.
That is until social media kicked in demanding why the government of Nigeria and other surrounding governments have done nothing to step in and say or do anything.
Of course William Hague and Gordon Brown have been vocal on this matter but by and large the #BringBackOurGirls campaign has pushed this issue into the spotlight where most media coverage both here in the UK, and by the sounds of it across the pond in the US, have been somewhat muted.
The Nigerian government have been woeful in either addressing this publicly or corralling external support to help deal with this. Whilst Goodluck Jonathan (a misnomer if I ever seen one) and his staff swan around inept to tackle or investigate this further, a much bigger picture emerges here. That where women’s lives are not considered as something worth worrying about.
What if there were 200 plus foreign nationals? Blonde blue eyed middle class girls? (Yes, I went there!)
What if Boko Haram had hijacked a depot owned by any of the multinationals like Shell, etc?
Dare I say it what would have happened if it were boys?
One cannot help to think about the underlying misogyny which prevents this inaction.
Violence against women is nothing new. We are inundated with other reports where rape, sexual slavery, and other abhorrent uses of physical force to subordinate women are prevalent. Whether it be in Congo, the shooting of the student Malala in Pakistan, or the recent trials in the UK were cases show that men of influence felt that it was the norm to take sexual advantage of younger women. To use and dispose of them as property. This mass kidnapping just goes to reinforce the twisted mindset prevalent not just in Nigeria but across the globe as a whole.
There are those who will go even deeper to recognise that the US in part, helped to fund bodies like Boko Haram to destabilise Nigeria. Whether you side with Wikileaks on such a revelation or dismiss it as a conspiracy theory that still pales into insignificance when you realise the patriarchy of governance in Nigeria have done nothing of substance to tackle this crime. To actually lift a finger to rescue their daughters. Our daughters.
What makes a group like Boko Haram fear a learned and educated woman so much that they will twist concepts of the Quran to their own end and wilfully abduct a whole generation of young ladies for their own causes? If some reports are to believed to force some into marriage or sexual slavery. And all in the name of Allah. Go figure. Religion becomes but another vehicle to perpetuate misogyny.
It’s worth nothing that when you think of countries in Africa like Rwanda who have made moves to elevate women as equals that the same bodies who funded groups like Al Quaeda, The Taliban have tried to destabilise them. Think of Thomas Sankara and his cabinet before he was bumped because he was deemed communist. Think of how Rwanda is vilified in Western press when in fact they have proportionally more women in Parliament and have become one of the easiest and best nations on Africa to do business. Governments like Rwanda, South Africa, Senegal have more women in governance than those countries with colonial or imperial pasts who claim to have the corner on democracy.
It is a crying shame that so many men cannot see that treating women as equals makes for a healthier and more vibrant society. That violence against women only demonstrates their own fear and short comings. Worse still as Martin Luther King quoted ““Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Over to you Goodluck.