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If you have seen the 2003 Irish film, Veronica Guerin, you are aware of the dangers  journalists face operating within conflict zones.

Two years ago I read what was to be Marie Colvin’s final tweet.  She was one of very few western journalists in Homs, Syria during the February 2012 siege.  She tweeted that night that she had seen a baby die that day.  The next morning she, herself, was dead.  She had lost an eye covering a conflict in Sri Lanka in 2001.  This time she lost her life.

Only weeks ago, in Afghanistan,   Associated Press reporters Kathy Gannon and Anja Niedringhaus, a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer were attacked.  Gannon was wounded, Niedringhaus was killed.

Today comes the sad news that yet another courageous young woman journalist has been murdered in the field.  This time it is French photojournalist Camille Lepage who has been cut down while covering fighting in the Central African Republic.

These women were passionate about what they did and worked without widespread renown, but their courage and dedication were boundless.  We regret these losses, offer condolences to their loved ones, and celebrate them and all of their cohorts for their steadfast reporting in  difficult and deadly locations and situations.

Camille Lepage was only 26 years old.  May she rest in peace.  May they all.  That includes David Bloom, who was not murdered but died valiantly covering war thoroughly and with great gusto while embedded in Iraq.  Bless them all!.

noceilings_eventpage

Why Education Matters

The kidnapping of over 300 teenage girls at Chibok Government Girls Secondary School in Nigeria has captivated attention and headlines across the world, inspiring outrage, compassion, and calls to action.  The girls were taken by Boko Haram, whose very name declares that education is sinful.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the girls, their families and those working to bring them home safely.

These devastating acts reflect a much larger problem – girls are being targeted and threatened with violence, kidnapping and more just for seeking an education.

That’s why the global community must stay committed to helping protect and promote girls’ education around the world so that every girl has the opportunity to live up to her full potential.

The numbers tell a hopeful story about progress in girls’ access to education over the past two decades.   Here are some important facts and statistics about girls’ education in Nigeria and across the globe, and why protecting schools like Chibok is vital to girls, women, and the world.

FACTS: Why Education Matters

  1. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2013 shows that where the gender gap is closest to being closed in a range of areas—including access to education, health survivability, economic participation, and political participation—countries and economies are more competitive and prosperous.
  2. Half of the reductions of child mortality between 1970 and 1990 can be attributed to increased education for women of reproductive age.*
  3. A 2011 World Bank report found that investing in girls’ education and opportunities in Nigeria and 13 other developing nations could increase a country’s gross domestic product by 1.2% in a single year.
  4. A 2002 study on the effect of education on average wages estimates that primary school education increases girls’ earnings by 5 to 15 % over their lifetimes.

FACTS: The Gaps that Remain 

  1. Girls and women continue to make up the largest share of the world’s illiterate population (61.3%), and literacy rates in Nigeria hover around 50 to 60%.
  2. Gender gaps are especially wide in places like Sub-Saharan Africa, where 40.1 % of girls and 33.1 % of boys are not enrolled in secondary schools like Chibok. This translates into 11.8 million girls in the region not accessing the education they need to attend university, find work, achieve financial independence, and contribute to a growing economy.**
  3. Girls also face early marriage as barrier to education, and should the girls from Chibok be sold into slavery or forced marriages, their chances of achieving their dreams will be all but dashed. In a study conducted in Kenya, researchers found that a marriage partner is associated with a 78 % increased risk of termination of secondary schooling.
  4. Globally, there are 37.4 million girls not enrolled in lower secondary school compared to 34.2 million boys, a gap of 3.2 million.***

​ It’s an unfortunate reality that it takes an act of courage to seek an education in places like Nigeria. But the girls at Chibok, despite the threats, pursued an education because they and their families understood just how valuable it is. Their resolve will set an example for generations to come and exemplifies the importance of working for the advancement of girls and women across the world so that every girl has a chance to go to school, fulfill her dreams, and break the ceilings and barriers she encounters.

This Mother’s Day, let’s remember the mothers who are missing their daughters, in Nigeria and around the world.

* Emmanuela Gakidou et al., “Increased Educational Attainment and Its Effect on Child Mortality in 175 Countries between 1970 and 2009: A Systematic Analysis,” The Lancet 376, no. 9745 (September 2010): 959–74. Although economic growth was also significantly associated with reductions in child mortality, the magnitude of the association was much smaller than that of increased education. 21 regions, approximately 4 million out of the 8 million children whose lives were saved can be attributed to education for women.
** Shelley Clark and Rohini Mathur, “Dating, Sex, and Schooling in Urban Kenya,” Studies in Family Planning 43, no. 3 (September 2012): 161–74.
*** UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Global Education Digest 2011: Comparing Education Statistics across the World (Montreal, Quebec: UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2011).

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We have managed to capture the media attention, finally.  That’s a good thing.  People know now.  But on the ground in Nigeria, the anguish has not diminished.  The girls are still not home, and families grieve.

Mothers of the missing schoolgirls wailed in anguish on Sunday as they waited for a visiting dignitary in the burned-out ruins of the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok. Credit Adam Nossiter/The New York Times

CHIBOK, Nigeria — The women surged forward, anguish creasing their faces. Many were crying. A collective wail went up, but the officials traveling with the visiting local dignitary pushed them back, shushing them so he could speak.

Mutely, the mothers of Chibok bent their heads, clasped their hands tightly and knelt Sunday on the grounds of the burned-out ruins of Chibok Government Girls Secondary School, their sobs subsiding after a brief moment on this overcast but stifling afternoon.

Their daughters were kidnapped from this desolate place and taken into the surrounding sandy scrub nearly four weeks ago by the Islamist sect Boko Haram. As many as 276 girls here were taken. Although about 50 escaped, not a single one of the remaining girls has been found, and despite international offers of help, the Nigerian government has been slow to act.

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I doubt that the kidnappers will get this or care.  That speaks of their alienation from our time and vision.   They fail to see the present as an arc to the future.

How Boko Haram imperils Nigeria’s future

By Melinda Gates
May 8, 2014 -

Editor’s note: Melinda Gates is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

(CNN) — I think of myself as an “impatient optimist.” There are times, however, when it’s harder to muster the optimism, and the impatience takes over. That’s how I felt when I read about the hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by the extremist group Boko Haram to be married off or sold into slavery.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the worst aspect of this atrocity. And it’s pitiful that this is nothing new. Treating women as spoils or weapons of war has been a common practice for thousands of years.

SNIP

… perhaps the most awful part of the story is that Boko Haram stands against a better future for ordinary Nigerians.

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Meanwhile, speaking in New York today, Hillary Clinton called these kidnappings “an act of terror.”

 

Hillary Clinton: Nigerian capture an ‘act of terror’

It was the first time Clinton has spoken out about the capture of the girls, who were seized from a Nigerian school in mid-April. More than 300 were initially kidnapped, but some escaped. At least 276 are reported to still be held captive by the Islamist militia Boko Haram, which has threatened to sell them.

real-men

Neither do real men steal and sell girls.  Neither do real men laugh about it.

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