Four weeks ago Nigeria’s militant Islamist group Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls from a boarding school in the northern town of Chibok on 14 April. An estimated 200 heavily armed militants arrived at night in 20 vehicles to steal supplies and kidnap the students.
Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language. The group condemns those who have been educated in the “Western” system, and is against the education of women. Just yesterday video footage of the girls has come to light – however the search continues and pressure is piling on the government from both within and outside it’s borders for the safe return of the girls.
Across the world there are corners where there is an almost unending war on the right to education for young girls and every day there are women and girls who risk their lives everyday to gain an education. So why is the education of girls so important? Why should it matter to these extremists? Why would they kidnap 200 girls from a school?
Because the potential effect of educating these millions of girls could completely change the world.
I have written extensively about the power of educating girls in the past which can be read at the following links:
However, it comes down to these facts.
When a girl is educated through secondary school, she will bring 25% more income into her family. When a girl in the developing world receives seven years of education, she marries four years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
When she is healthy, her family and community’s health improves, maternal mortality and child malnutrition drops, and HIV prevalence declines.
- Kenya would gain $27 billion in potential income per generation if its female secondary school dropouts continued their education.
- In Nigeria, if women had the same employment rate as young men, the country would add $13.9 billion to it’s economy annually.
- India sacrifices a potential of $100 billion over a lifetime due to adolescent pregnancy while early school dropouts costs the Indian economy $10 billion in potential income over a lifetime.
These are just the possibilities in three countries. Multiply this by the 250 million adolescent girls living in poverty today and you get the most powerful force for positive change on the planet.
“To educate girls is to reduce poverty. Study after study has taught us that there is no tool for development more effective than the education of girls.”—Kofi Annan, U.N. Secretary General (Annan, 2003)
For those extremists who are opposed to freedom, development and equality, these facts must have them shaken if they believe they need to attack young women fighting for their education.
But it is a fight the extremists will not win.
The revolution will be led by a 12 year old girl.