On May 6, almost 300 girls were kidnapped from their school in Nigeria. As of July 14, 90 days after the abduction, 276 girls are still missing. Although there is global awareness of these abductions, largely due to social media movements, little has been done to return these girls to their homes.
Feminism is a global fight in which inequality for women anywhere is a threat to women’s equality everywhere. It is this fight that brought me and four other FMF interns along with about 75 others to a protest outside the Nigerian Embassy in Washington, D.C. to demand action in order to #BringBackOurGirls. The protest was organized by Act4Accountability, an organization that has been formalized for about two months around this issue.
When we arrived, the organizers greeted us and handed us t-shirts, a list of chants, and a paper outlining the “Timeline of Incompetence.” Before we started our chants, one of the members of Act4Accountability reminded us why we were there. He said that what is happening in Nigeria is not a developing country issue, it is not a cultural issue, it is not a religion issue. It is a human issue. This fight, he reminded us, is about basic human rights. It is about those rights being denied. Although some will argue that the problems caused by Boko Haram are simply a “phase,” the speaker reminded us that we were on day 90 of the girls missing.
The speaker said a lot of the awareness built around the abductions was due to social media efforts carried out by everyday people from around the world. This struck home because I recently wrote a piece on how #Activism isn’t enough to #BringBackOurGirls. While I stand by what I say, I do believe that movements need more than internet publicity to generate change; this protest helped me realize that in this day in age it is the collaboration of internet activism and on the ground activism that generates change. Not everyone has the time or the resources to go out and protest at 11 a.m. on a Monday. Not everyone has the ability to access Twitter or social media outlets. However, this new brand of activism allows for more people to be directly involved.
Act4Accountability, who had organized the protest through social media outlets, could walk away from their computers knowing they had helped by putting people on the ground. The people who tweeted from the protest along with the people who tweeted from home could know they contributed to the conversation. The protest was hot and my throat hurt from chanting “Bring Back Our Girls,” but I walked away knowing my voice along with 75 others had sent a clear message to the Nigerian Embassy.
The time for action was 89 days ago. Enough is enough. It is time to Bring Back Our Girls.