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Bring Back Our Girls

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>> Hello. My name is Christopher Dickey. I'm with the "Daily Beast", and I'm hosting and moderating the "Bring Our Girls Back Home" Hangout today, looking at the situation of the girls who were kidnapped and continue to be kidnapped in Nigeria, and what people can do to help set them free, and also to create an environment where this kind of thing doesn't happen in the future. This is co-sponsored by Girl Rising and by Smart Girls, Amy Poehler's Smart Girls, by World of-- we've got wonderful people to talk to us now from Nigeria. From Abuja we have, I'm sorry Hafsat Abiola, who is the daughter of former President Abiola, the late President and who is the Director of the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy. From Yola, which is in northeast Nigeria, which is right where these problems are most severe, we have Fidelis Mbah who is the correspondent for the BBC. We have Gretel Truong, of A World at School, Gordon Brown's organization, and I think Gordon is going to be doing a lot in the next few days in Nigeria to move this issue forward. We have Meredith Walker from Smart Girls, and we have Tara Abrahams and Holly Gordon from Girl Rising who are going to tell us exactly what can be done, what you can do to make a difference for those girls who have been kidnapped, and for girls in similar situations in Nigeria and indeed in other countries around the world. First I'd like to call on Fidelis Mbah the BBC correspondent in Nigeria who is in Yola in northeast Nigeria right now to tell us what is going on. What do we know about the situation the girls are in. How many are still being held? Just give us any and all details that you can because I think the world is absolutely interested to know what is going on on the ground in northeast Nigeria. Okay, can you hear me now? >> We can. >> Yeah okay. Welcome everyone to this Google Hangout. Presently as we speak it's not been established how many girls are being held because we assume the figure is being computed. The families are saying that you know the figure is 234 and the government people, actually the government officials have come out to say that the figure could be higher, which is 276. So, but what we know is that over 200 girls have been held by these insurgents since they kidnapped on the 14th of April. And as we speak no one actually knows the position where these girls are being held. There are speculations that they could be somewhere called Sambisa Forest. This is a forest that has been used in the past by environmental injustice groups to [inaudible] the environment, but now since the insurgency began in 2009 and you know more like they are [inaudible] it heightened in 2012, it made Sambisa Forest their enclave. So most times when they kidnap people or when you know they engage in shootouts with government before, and they're repelled, and they go back to this forest. Mainly we believe that these girls are held in Sambisa Forest, which is within Borno state in Northeast Nigeria. Sambisa Forest, to this place is not too far. It's only two hours away from where they were kidnapped in Chibok at their school. And right now [inaudible] the President is saying he doesn't have very much information. He is telling his media [inaudible] on Sunday, he was even appealing to journalists to help with information if they have any. The government have not been forthcoming with information. The only thing they did was two days after these girls were kidnapped they issued a statement saying that all the girls had been rescued. That was found out to be a big lie and since then the militants have been very cautious in issuing any statements. As we speak even though these girls have been held and people don't actually know their whereabouts they commission that some of them might have died, that some of them are ill, that some of them have been married, that some of them have been ferried across Nigeria. Because this area has-- it's actually on the edge of Nigeria where you have, the country has-- borders with Cameroon, Chad, and Niger Republic. So it makes it very easy because of the poor nature of the Nigerian borders, it makes it very easy for these girls or other people to be transported across these borders unchecked. because there are various routes which are not manned by [inaudible] people [inaudible] There are very few of them that have dealt with this firepower of these insurgents Because these insurgents are heavily armed. Some of you who saw the video that was released yesterday by Abubakar Shekau, that's the leader of Boko Haram you can see that it was right behind him-- he had an armored truck, which one will now try to imagine how this armored truck got into the forest. To show you how poorly run the Nigerian forest has been over the years, this is what the insurgents are taking advantage of. There have been protests both locally and nationally in Nigeria even in-- Borno state where this kidnapping happened. The locals from Chibok, the village where [audio issues] moved to Abuja and held rallies in conjunction with activists and human rights crusaders to draw the national committee's attention to the plight of these girls. Because all along until Sunday the Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan never made any comments about the location of these girls, what the government was doing to ensure that these girls were rescued, and what efforts had been put in place to ensure that they were brought back home, but for the hashtag Bring Back Our Girls, which was initiated and has gone viral across the world, many people wouldn't have known about this plight. Just a day after this kidnap the President went on an election campaign where he was seen dancing. This is what many people felt was highly insensitive given the nature. We're talking about over 200 girls kidnapped and here we have the President who is supposed to care, who is supposed to you know in other countries who is supposed to declare this a national disaster. So Nigerians have really not been happy. and as we talk about these over 200 girls been kidnapped, today we have a reported kidnapping of about eight or nine girls who were taken from same state. This one has been kidnapped and no one knows their location at the moment. They were kidnapped from a place called Gwoza, Gwoza is spelled G-W-O-Z-A. So right now we're talking about over 200 girls have been kidnapped and that nothing is said of these girls who have been kidnapped. This is something that actually been going on for several months, people being killed everyday, people being kidnapped on a daily basis, but it did not attract international attention as much as this because this involved a case of between you know 13 and 16 years, which is why-- many Nigerians are worried that, you know, this could have been my daughter. Some of us have to you know be honest about the possibility that, not take it like some kind of campaign, to start talking about it because it could have been your daughter, it could have been my own daughter, it could have been your sister, it could have also been my sister. [inaudible] We are trying to make sure these girls are rescued. But nothing significant has actually been demonstrated to Nigeria that you know these girls will be brought back alive. And you know with the report of some of these girls being killed, which has not been confirmed you know it's also increasing tension especially among the parents who are worried. Some of them are-- in Abuja, some of them who even went to protest yesterday were arrested, reportedly on the orders Of the wife of the President because she claims that some of them were not cooperating with government in terms of providing answers that will help with the rescue of these girls. And then some people are saying is this the fault of the parents that these girls are being held? These parents are looking forward to getting their family back to them and now you are even compounding the issues by arresting some of them. And if two combined efforts of both the two sides of the media for these people who were arrested yesterday to be released. So right now it's a major talking point, not just in Nigeria, but locally for everyone is ____ how do we get [inaudible] local attention, national attention, and the attention to these Chibok girls who have been held since the 14th of April. >> Fidelis I want to go to-- that's fantastic summing up of the situation right now and I think we want to come back to the question of the inaction of the Nigerian Government and how we can pressure the Nigerian Government to take more action. But right now Hafsat, if you don't mind I'd love you to talk a little bit about who these girls are. As I understand it when they were abducted last month they were boarding at the school in Chibok. They were studying for their final exams. What kinds of students are these girls? What kinds of girls are they in a place like Chibok there in north, in northeastern Nigeria? >> In a very real sense those girls are pioneers because in northern Nigeria it is not a forgone conclusion that you have girls in school. In northeast Nigeria where Chibok is there's about three percent of the girls end up in university, three percent. >> So they were very special to begin with, just that they were-- >> Very special to be taking that exam. That is the first step to go to university at all and you know and also in northeast Nigeria the rate at which girls die when giving birth is the highest we have in Nigeria. It's right now around 650 women dying at the point of delivery of a child every 100,000 births. In southwest Nigeria where I'm from it's as low as 250. The difference between southwest Nigeria and northeast Nigeria is really the age at which these girls are getting married. In northeast Nigeria they're getting married at quite young ages in their teens, even 13, 12 years old girls are getting married. So, those girls that have been kidnapped are girls that their parents have taken an unusual decision for northeast Nigeria to continue to keep the girl, girls in school so that they can be educated so that they can go on to university and have a different life. So what has happened is, is deeply sad because their parents had invested in a different life for them and that life has now been threatened by the abductors because the abductors intend to sell the girls into marriage to militants among them. So it's very tragic and we must do what we can to save them. Because otherwise you know their story will just-- not only will their own life chances be curtailed but even the life chances of other girls across northeast Nigeria. Because you can well imagine that now many families are reconsidering whether it is safe to send their children, especially their daughters to school. >> What is it about Boko Haram? We say the Boko Haram, the name of the group of these insurgents these jihadists means western education is forbidden. Do they have a special hatred for the education of women? What, what are they trying to prove here? >> I think they have a special for hatred for education in general. A lot of the ranking style of Boko Haram are what we call almajiri in Nigeria. Almajiri are young children whose parents send them out, young boys whose parents send them out of the home to go and beg and to study under a Muslic cleric. So these are not children who will go to a western school. So, a lot of the soldiers, the militants within Boko Haram are people, are boys that will not have the advantage of a western education. I suspect, I mean I have no evidence, but I suspect that they resent that. They resent the fact that they could not have a western education. Also they have, their leaders have the wrong understanding of Islam. Within Borno State before they even started attacking the schools, before they were violent, Boko Haram leaders were understudying one of the Muslim leaders in Borno State whose name was Mallam Jafar. And their ideas were so wrong that Mallam Jafar stopped teaching them and they were banned from all the mosques in Borno State. So we're not talking about people who are in the mainstream. We're not talking about people whose ideas are validated in their community. We're talking about people who are radicals. They're in the extreme. Their ideas are not validated but they're trying now to impose their ideas using balance because they were not able to convince and persuade the majority of people in Borno to support them. >> Wow. Well I think you know three weeks ago when this happened, when this huge abduction happened as we've heard, that was not the first time and it probably, it certainly wasn't the last time because we just had eight more girls kidnapped yesterday. I think a lot of people want to know what they can do to raise this issue globally and really put pressure on, on the governments that are involved that might be able if they would do something to do something. I wanted to ask Gretel Troung, A World at School, how she see this Bring Back Our Girls campaign growing and functioning right now. >> Yes thank you Chris. Its' been an incredible response but as you know we are three weeks out from when the girls were initially kidnapped that's just hitting. And I hope not the peak but just the beginning of international pickup in terms of media, in terms of awareness and in terms of advocacy and people taking action. And I think it's largely in part due to social media and the voices of the mothers and the fathers and the brothers and sisters and colleagues in Nigeria who held in-person rallies and who really started to speak out asking for help, asking for the government or almost anybody to start to take action to find a way to find these girls. And that picked up online via Twitter, via Facebook. People started using the hashtag Bring Back Our Girls or Bring Back our Daughters. And that's really to the force. People really wanted to do something. People started to retweet, people started to talk about it. And people started outcry, why with 200 plus girls missing has nobody really spoken out about this. As we've seen many other international tribunes being placed where youth or people go missing it's often a huge media storm. But with this again we're three weeks out and we're still just beginning to move this needle. One week ago when there were really rallies held around the world in Nigeria, but also in London, D.C., New York all over the place it really started to paint a picture that people care. And with this being our mind you know not only all of your tweets have really impacted people here, whether it's Quest Love, or Common, Taraji P. Henson, Hillary Clinton, our own founder Sarah Brown, have been talking about this issue because you guys have been the ones out there tweeting. If you think for a second that people aren't listening, people are. Somebody who monitors a couple feeds and I'm sure Girl Rising and Amy Poehler's Smart Girls can say the same is like we're listening. We see that you guys care. We see that you guys want to do something. We see that you guys want to learn more about what situation is happening in Nigeria and how people are taking action, it really does make a difference. So it's been because of you and even our reporter on CNN yesterday said you know we've read your comments on Facebook. We see that you guys care. You know they've sent more reporters down on the ground to report from there. It really has made a difference in terms of being able to make this an international issue, to put this on the nightly news. We've put this in the papers. We've had Nick Kristoff just write a report this weekend. Malala has come out in support of the girls and obviously Sarah Brown and her husband, U.S. Special Envoy Gordon Brown are on their way to Nigeria this week to meet with some of the leaders down there to talk about these issues and to even bring your voices. On change.org there's been a petition that now has over 300,000 signatures and that's been led by the digital advocacy that you guys have put together. And it's about also rallying together to get all of these different organizations as partners with Girl Rising and Smart Girls again in order to make a difference. So-- >> Gretel let me ask you a question. Gordon Brown and Sarah Brown they're on their way to Abuja right now, to Nigeria right now to the World Economic Forum. >> Yes. >> A lot of leaders are going to be there. Goodluck Jonathan, the President of Nigeria is going to be there. The man we're talking about as not having done very much to rescue these girls. Is Gordon Brown going to go in there in a stronger position because of the social media campaign, because of the kinds of things that you're talking about when he brings this up with Goodluck Jonathan? >> Absolutely. Because-- I mean we have hundreds of countries supporting this now. Because of the online advocacy it has, there is no, without a doubt there is no proof that you guys care. People around the world care. There's pressure now to take action because these children aren't bound. These girls aren't bound. There will be I think something that will happen that will cause people to really outcry saying that you know action must be taken not only for this to never happen again but so that you know girls and students are protected around the world. >> Listen let me, I want to talk, Meredith are you there from Smart Girls? I wanted to ask Meredith Walker what people can do-- >> I'm here. >> What people can do where they are? Because all this seems a long way away. As intense as the emotions are, I mean when I think we heard Hafsat describing the way girls are so special in their own society, I think we can call identify with that. That was heartbreaking. I think when we listened to Fidelis talk about the war and the situation there that's all very difficult, but it's all a long way away. What can people do in their own hometowns, what can they do where they are in the United States or around the world to move this situation forward to benefit those girls and other girls? [ Silence ] Meredith? >> Oop. >> I'm here. Can you hear me? >> Yeah. >> Oh great. I don't know what happened there. But each of us has something to offer in the fight against injustice and that's a thing to really remember. That enough of us participate in shout and show that we care, that common voice, that unified voice is going to be heard by the people who can act on behalf of these girls. Especially a unified voice coming from so many different places. And so just like what was being said before and I think what will be talked about in a minute with the Action Pack is that every time if you sign a petition, if you write your congress person or just local leader and ask them to let everybody know that this is something we care about and we want to change but even something as simple as changing your avatar. All of this becomes a collection of people who really care and are demanding that action be taken. And so we just want to make sure that everybody knows that each small act becomes part of this unified voice that will bring about change. >> Yea, can-- do you think that people for instance who are protesting in Nigeria do they feel solidarity or do they feel the solidarity of people who are protesting for instance right here in New York City or down in Washington, D.C. >> Definitely. Definitely. >> Well the messages that we receive-- >> Feel the solidarity and-- >> Hafsat, yes Hafsat you were saying. >> Meredith please continue but-- >> No, no. >> I was saying the people that have been monitoring, even on our news we are saying that people all over the world are standing with us. Because you see Nigerians have been saying for a while to the government, to the Federal Government, that children are being killed because before the girls were kidnapped, boys were killed in their school. They're kidnapping the girls but they kill the boys. >> Hmm. >> And we said to the President that something has to be done and nothing was done. No action. We don't know who killed them. We knew that they Boko Haram, who they were they're not being caught. So we've been agitating for a while but nothing has happened. What is different this time is that the world is agitating along with us. >> That's tremendously important. >> [inaudible] Nigeria. >> Meredith is their more that people can-- let me ask Meredith, is there more that people can do Meredith? >> Well for sure. What people can do is organize rallies locally. And there are lots of ways to get help doing that but, and then pay attention to the, the great rallies that are going around in every town. And you know they're calling it kind of a social medium march as well, which is whenever we acknowledge what other people are doing that it collectively becomes a huge rally. But we encourage everybody of any age, any gender just get together and plan a rally because that actually, it's just a great way to participate in this fight. >> Listen I think Tara and Holly at Girl Rising have some things that they can tell people who are watching this that they can do very, very specifically. And I think it's sort of one stop shopping as it were for how to make a difference on this issue. Tara or Holly are you there? Are you both there? Watch out, you may be muted. Hello. >> I think so. I was muted. >> There you are. >> Can you hear me? >> Yeah. >> So as Meredith referenced what we've been working on at Girl Rising along with Amy Poehler's Smart Girls organization is to develop an Action Pack that gives people very specific and easy ways that they can contribute to the issue because as Meredith mentioned this is all about united action. And if we, if we really all band together those individual acts and those individual opportunities to raise our voices to bring them back home, it will make a difference. So the action pack identifies very specific things to one, continue to share the story and keep the visibility high. So change your avatar to that Bring Back Our Girls emblem that you see on my photos here. Continue to make the hashtag bring back our girls relevant and visible even as we, as global leaders push forward to rescue those girls. So sharing the stories and raising awareness is critically important and there are little ways even here in New York City that everyone can contribute to that. And as Gretel said, people are listening. Local leaders are listening. The second thing is around continuing to share your voice through specific channels that have been identified such as the petition that is on change.org right now that Gordon Brown will be able to present to President Goodluck Jonathan when he's there in Nigeria later this week. We're at 300,000 signatures. We want to get to a million and I think it's possible given the groundswell of support and anger and frustration about not enough being done to help get these girls back home. And then the final piece for those who are inclined to donate and want to contribute to the effort not just around getting these girls back, which is, of course, critically important and the key outcome right now, but also looking long-term how can we support efforts to make Nigeria a place where girls and boys can go to school safely? Because that's critical and there are organizations out there who are doing unbelievable work in this regard. And so we've partnered with Catapult, which is a women's and girls focus crowd forcing platform to create a project that would aggregate funding to support Nigerian organizations working on girls education issues and education issues in the region so that we can continue to drive resources to efforts to make sure that girls can go to school safely. >> Yea, I think we're going to have-- open up questions now. Thank you very much Tara. I think we're going to open up questions now to the people who are listening in. And you know the questions that are coming in are important and disturbing I think. One person is writing in this is not just a Nigerian issue. Where in the world is this safe haven for these girls in places like Afghanistan, Sudan, Pakistan, India. There needs to be global centers of safety for these girls and women in countries. Is, is there a movement afoot to do that? Is there anything concrete being done to do that on the global scene? Tara? >> In terms of global centers that is an interesting idea. Well, I know in certainly in those countries there are programs that are specifically looking at becoming in local communities, safe spaces and safe centers for girls to be mentored to have access to education, to have access to, to have access to education services that will help them continue on with their lives and become fruitful and productive members of society. And I'm wondering too Hafsat if you can weight in in terms of specific organizations or centers of this type that can serve as these safe havens for girls, in particular for these girls perhaps once they have been rescued where can they go? Where can they continue their education safely if their community doesn't offer that at this current time? >> Great question Tara. Hafsat? >> You know there's an excellent woman in Borno, which is a lovely, lovely place, very hot, over 30 degrees but just very gentle people and they've really come under attack. But this wonderful woman there, she's a professor in the university, Professor Hauwa Biu and she has taken it on herself to organize and coordinate the mothers so that she can support them in the effort to get, to bring back the girls and then the idea that when we've gotten the girls home safely we have to look at what they need, counseling, perhaps we have to relocate some of them if they're not safe, they do not feel safe in Borno State. Perhaps to come to another state in the north or even to come to the south. You know NGOs in Nigeria are completely mobilized and ready to support and defend those girls. But in terms of trying to create safe spaces, I think we have to get our country and the government in Pakistan, Afghanistan, all these countries that have issues like this and Nigeria to shift their focus from security, where we think of security as the soldier's ability to wage war, but to think of security as something more holistic where we have jobs. We have, you know we have a response to restless young people. We did not have a response to restless young people in northeast Nigeria where over 70 percent are living in poverty. Where unemployment is well over 60 percent. If we do not have a response to these things you always have radicalism and you always have militants and insurgents. >> Fidelis, let me ask you you're right there in the middle of things. I think people would like to know in practical terms what might be done to rescue these girls? We've maybe jumped a little bit ahead when we talk about what can be done once those girls are freed. But between now and then they have to be freed. What do you see the government doing or not doing right now? Is there any mobilization and what should it be doing? I think you're, wait I think you're-- >> Okay, yeah, can you hear me now? >> Yeah. >> Well the option available to government you know has been a bit tricky which is storm this area and rescue these girls. But then these people, these insurgents have been known to be very, very, you know people that they don't have that conscience to say let's get into a negotiation. Because first of all the group [inaudible] and they don't want to negotiate with anybody. They've made it clear that you know, like their name, which is end to Western education, they are not ready to even make-- you know allow these girls to be freed. All this talk about negotiation you know of the government officials who claim they are negotiating, who are they negotiating with? [inaudible] But this group is very clever. [Inaudible] They already talk about these girls could be killed. [Inaudible] I think it's a case of some persons in the north, in the northern Nigeria have [inaudible] they somehow must make, have disclose things to people who might know these people and maybe appeal to them and see if they can rescue them. But it's a really tough call but they're not open to any form of communication. And the other thing is okay maybe also from a security point you know how about the Nigerian government-- blocking the borders, making sure the people are reported [inaudible]. Even if these girls were not been moved to these locations where they're to be sold, like the leader of Boko Haram Abubakar Shekau is claiming [inaudible] Somehow with security intelligence they can narrow in exactly how they might be able to rescue some of the girls. Let's be realistic - not all the over 200 girls might not be rescued, let's be realistic. Because some of them have already died according to some reports. So it is a bit tricky in terms of rescuing them all alive, all of them coming out. And then now talking about like what Hafsat mentioned earlier in the conversation. It is difficult for Christian girls to go to school and for parents to allow girls to go to school here. And now some of them who already in school [inaudible] kidnapped and all that how do we ensure that after this even if all the girls are rescued, how are we sure that other parents who allow their girls to go to school. Because in this part of the world culturally, and also some of it is religion but it's more of culture because there's no where that Islam teaches that people should not go to school. So culture I think some of them are not so giving into allowing their girls, they feel that some of these girls get married as early as 11 or 12 and they are given up to marriage. So all they believe, some of them believe that here are these girls. They get married and they settle down, make babies and live this way. Because maybe the girls or rather woman in Northern Nigeria don't work, it is their husbands that work [inaudible] We should be looking at what should be done in terms of [inaudible] effort, to ensure that girls will be able to go back to school [inaudible] That parents should be able to send them to school. >> You know-- >> Can I say one more thing? >> I put this out for-- Hafsat for Fidelis, actually for anybody. The American Government has said it will get the FBI involved. Is that going to be helpful? >> That is welcome Christopher. I was talking to some people in the police forces here in Nigeria and also some people in the Army and I wanted to ask them if they would welcome the international assistance that our President has called for and they said they would. We need it. We are aware that we do not have the capacity within Nigeria to rescue these girls. You see it's one thing to attack the militants or the insurgents. The point is not to attack the insurgents but to get the girls back safely. Because that is our goal I think the Nigerian security agencies are not well trained in that kind of operation. So our President has already appealed for international support on this issue and for those of you that are calling on your leaders in the United States and beyond, that's something you could do is to really encourage them to give us that assistance so that we can get those girls back home safely. >> But again Hafsat, if I can talk then here. The Pentagon issued a statement yesterday saying you know they are ruling to offer Nigeria some form of help. Until last night when the Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala where she was questioned on CNN was she was saying they would welcome any form of support. Well the Nigerian Government has not-- been forthcoming in terms of requesting for international assistance. Even countries globally are willing to provide some form of assistance. How ready is the Nigerian Government [inaudible] to accept this assistance? Because this is, imagine how did this happen on the 14th of April and up until now we keep talking about whether there will be assistance or there will be no assistance. And what we've been hearing reports, negative reports about some of the girls dying and some of them falling ill and the government has not been categorical in coming up with saying please come to our aid. The government you know the President [inaudible] or the social media chapter Sunday was the very first time of talking about these issues. To show you sort of how often times they have been in the past, because like people will make noise in the past and keep quiet. Because this is not the first time people have been kidnapped. This is not the first time people have been killed in northern Nigeria. But just because these are girls now and it has attracted international attention [inaudible] how many people have been killed in the past [inaudible] the soldiers went to a school and slaughtered several young boys. And even the president [inaudible] didn't even address the nation about it. It's been a case of [inaudible] no challenge on the part of government. They need to at this point especially with international pressure Come up and say look we are ready to accept any form of assistance and make it formal beyond just saying yes we are ready. But have they contacted the the people who offer the assistance. What does it take? Either a phone call or an email to the U.S. and they are here. All the countries will be here. But that has not been done. [inaudible] or for political reasons would not solve anything. >> You know, I think we need to step back a moment for some of the people who are looking at this and listening to us to emphasize just how important education is for young women, not only in Nigeria but through out the world. You know in the United States we just take if for granted that young women are going to be educated. I wonder if Meredith could talk a little bit about that and about the importance of focusing on education for young women. And also the impact that that has on the society, a society like Nigeria's or any society around the world. Meredith. >> Well, I would just-- education it's a value and a right that we all deserve and people should be able to exercise. And it's definitely seeing, it's being fought against by these people because they see how powerful it is. That's why they want to keep these girls from it and that's why we have to fight so much for it. And I know Tara has something she wants to say about this. So I'm going to hand it over to her. >> Well I think the reason that we're all here together also is, is not only girls education efforts and the reality of the situation in Nigeria but also globally. That there, as this other question had referenced Afghanistan, Pakistan, to Sudan. There are no-- there are so many countries around the world where girls aren't given the opportunity to get the education that they deserve and huge potential is lost. And the reality is, and I'm sure Gretel will also speak to this, that when you invest in girls' education, the benefits are countless. The girls who go to school marry later, have no children, are healthier, earn more money and they reinvest all of that back into their communities and back into their country. And so this is why, this is something that we have to protect. We all have to come together to protect girls' rights to go to school and certainly to go to school safely. But to be, to have the opportunity for the school rather than being married at the age of 10. To go to school rather than going out to work when you're 12. Because the benefits have been researched and are tremendous and that's the potential that we want to harness and unleash in countries like Nigeria, but also in other countries around the world. >> [inaudible speaker comments] >> No I think we're going to see the ramifications of this for months and possibly years to come. In terms of an example of why it's important to protect education and as Tara is saying that giving the girl an education has the benefits for generations. It benefits here as a mother, as a wife, as a member of society. It gives her the potential to earn an income, to do things in the community that she wouldn't be able to do without an education. And as you see it's not just girls, it's boys as well. With 57 million children being out of school, most of them being girls. I think we have the possible to restore hope for many, many generations to come with education and the importance of them being in school. And also getting the quality education and being able to learn the things that make you a member of society that-- [ Audio issue ] >> You know I think people are going to be inspired by what they've heard here today to want to do something right is second. You know it's one thing to listen to this and think oh, well I think I'll go have lunch now and sort of ponder what to do. What can people do right now? I think that Girl Rising has created what they call an Action Pack. I think we may have mentioned that before, but let's come back to that and focus on that a minute because that really does tell us you know what we can do right this second, the minute we get off this hangout. >> I think that you-- if you go to girlrising.com there is an action pack that outlines some of the key opportunities to take action right now. As far as right this second if we could all change, for example, our avatar to that Bring Back Our Girls emblem and symbol, which is plastering social media, Facebook and Twitter with this red image inspired by the Nigerian flag. I think that's a tremendous sign of support and visibility. You can even find now online the photos of people in the live marches carrying those placards, bright red signs of hope and support for bringing these efforts to bring these school girls back home. So I think that's something that if you're on this hangout you have the ability to just get to girlrising.com, download that, download that image and get it right up on your social media outlets. The other thing I think would be to go right now to change.org and sign that petition. Because if you're here with us then you know the power of collected action to really bring about change. And that is something that we know that Gordon Brown is going to bring to the President of Nigeria this week. So we've got to stay with him and we've got to give him as many signatures as we possibly can. >> That's terrific. You know on the Fidelis I have a question. You know I've-- as I've been reading about this from afar and I've been looking at it from afar, I hear that the families themselves have been trying to search, just regular people have been trying to find these girls. Hunters, professional hunters have been out in the bush looking for them. Is there anything that can be done to support the people who are actively looking for those girls, transportation, supplies, anything? >> Well just to tell you initially that is what happened, but that's not happening now. That's just the truth. Because when these girls were abducted parents you now first of all local hunters and a few soldiers you know went out looking for them thinking this was like the regular maybe abduction of a few people and could find them and all that. But apparently they met a brick wall and they came back. It was wearing down on the parents, that look nothing would actually come out of this. That they now decided to, Chibok where the parents and the relatives of these missing girls, and they've had to transport these girls several kilometers to where the girls have been held which was Where I mentioned before the Sambisa Forest. Sambisa is spelled S-A-M-B-I-S-A. So they went there. They mobilized transport for the girls, food, water, and everything [inaudible] Like some of them said when they granted an interview, when they got there someone who had maybe who knows about the killing warned them all that they should get out of that forest. Or they might end up being [inaudible] or rather be killed in the forest. It goes beyond giving them water [inaudible] we're talking about people who are using sophisticated weapons that are even more than the villagers have got. We are talking about people who are driving an armored vehicle, you can't go there with machetes or maybe with a [inaudible] gun and think you can confront them. These are people, most of them, there are reports that some of them have got [inaudible] from the military, people who understand guerilla warfare so well. So these parents are not changed. So if you're talking about support, for now it might just be a case of drawing government attention to security to really employ the benefits of experts, experts in military security, in international security [inaudible] it could be the CIA [inaudible] or any other security experts that can come look at this and be able to rescue these girls. If we rely on the parents, not only will they be chased it might be difficult because they don't have the expertise and they might get killed while searching for these girls. >> You know Hafsat I have one last question for you and that is, is this experience, the experience of the girls being abducted and the experience of international attention do you think that this will be a watershed moment in Nigeria. Will this change things in Nigeria for girls education, for the education of young people generally for the Nigerian Society? Or is that maybe hoping for too much? >> I think everything has already changed. Because just before I came to this hangout we were-- I was talking to some people and the Nigerian National Security Agency had had meeting a few weeks ago to plan how to contain the terrorism threat from Boko Haram. During that meeting they didn't raise the issue of how Boko Haram affects women and girls. It just never came up. Now they're going to have to think about how to protect women and girls in particular from Boko Haram. You know the truth is so much, woman and girls are often ignored in the public sphere in Nigeria. But because of the way that the world has responded to the abduction of the 200 plus girls in Chibok the Nigerian Government understands that we're not invisible. We're not to be just set aside but that we actually have a responsibility to protect us and to ensure our security. So that has definitely changed and already we're thinking of having a meeting with people from the NSA to start looking at that strategy, how they're going to be working to protect the lives of women and girls in northeast Nigeria and across the country. So yes, I think it has really helped make a difference. Christopher I'd just like to also thank the girls who have been doing all that they've been doing. To thank them for not, for not just being consumed in your own life and for remembering our girls here as well and for understanding that they are just like you, with dreams that-- just as you have and for standing for them, for being their voice in the global community and for making sure that because of your voice for them our own leaders here and your leaders all over the world will not just set their, set them aside. Please keep speaking about them until we can get our girls back home. >> You know I want to thank everybody for coming to this hangout. We've got a great momentum going here. We've got hundreds of thousands of signatures. We have I think millions of people will be tweeting about this around the world. This has driven media coverage around the world. I can tell you as a journalist people were not paying attention to this. I wrote about it in the first day or two after it happened. And then it went flat, nobody was paying attention. You know somewhere out in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of Africa 200 girls are suffering and disappeared and their parents are crying about it, but what did it mean to anybody? Well it means a hell of a lot to people now. It is really happening now and it's not just this issue. It's an issue that it is a point, the point issue or the edge, the blade, the cutting edge that can say we can change things for women around the world and for girls around the world with a combination of social media, social activism, on the ground demonstrations, focusing on issues, focusing on this issue. Let's get those girls out of there if there's any possible way to do it. And let's make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen again. I think if people want to continue this conversation, they've got a bunch of places they can go associated with this hangout. As people have said you can go to change.org, but you should first of all come back to the hashtag. Use it, abuse it, put it out there anywhere and everywhere you can. #Bring Back Our Girls. You can also go to @girlrising on Twitter. You can go to Girl Rising's website and you can go, of course, to Amy Poehler's Smart Girls. I have to tell you, this is hard to do verbally. Smart Girls is @smrtgrls. Smortgirls. Go there too, tweet there too, get the message out. Get the girls out and let's make sure this kind of thing never ever happens again in Nigeria or anywhere else. Thank you very much for joining us in this hangout.

Video Details

Team: Girl Rising
Duration: 52 minutes and 16 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
License: All rights reserved
Producer: Girl Rising
Director: Girl Rising
Views: 142
Posted by: tertia on May 20, 2014

On Tuesday, May 6th, Girl Rising and Amy Poehler's Smart Girls initiative co-organized a "Call to Action" Google Hangout in response to the abducted Nigerian school girls.

Watch the conversation here, comment below and get the action kit at: http://bit.ly/1qaURol

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