More Than 35,000 People Rally Behind Nigerian Women to Bring Back Our Girls

   •    July 8, 2015

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It’s been more than a year since 276 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram. While the world has long since looked away, Nigerian women have continued daily demonstrations, calling on the government to intensify the search. We asked our supporters and friends to make sure these activists know they are not forgotten. Over 35,000 people signed a petition in support of Nigerian women and their ongoing campaign to Bring Back Our Girls.

We sent the responses to our Nigerian Women Waging Peace Network member Pastor Esther Ibanga, encouraging her to continue her work to break the cycles of violence and radicalization. She wrote back last month to say thanks and provide an update on her activities:

Greetings from Nigeria,

First, thanks a billion! I am overwhelmed by your messages of support—they brought tears to my eyes.

Recently, the Nigerian military rescued more than 300 women and girls from the clutches of Boko Haram. According to UNFPA, 214 out of the 234 female captives freed from militant camps in the Sambisa Forest are pregnant. All are traumatized.

While we thank God for the return of these sisters, we are heartbroken that 230 schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok remain missing and that communities continue to live in constant fear of the violent and inhumane actions of extremists. At Women Without Walls Initiative, we are in touch with some of the girls’ parents, supporting them however we can. We eagerly await the inauguration of the new government, ready to hold President-elect Buhari accountable to his promise to do everything in his power to bring the girls home.

My country faces other issues than the violence wrought by Boko Haram. That’s why Women Without Walls continues to facilitate dialogues between civilians and police, support mothers to prevent radicalization in their families, and provide economic opportunities for at-risk women. Recently, we constructed a “peace well” to provide water at a meeting point between Christian and Muslim neighborhoods, in order to build common purpose.

This work is sometimes dangerous and hard. We know peace is a long way away. That’s why your solidarity means the world to me, and to the women of Nigeria. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for standing with us.

With appreciation,
Pastor Esther Ibanga

Our staff has been consulting in-country with the Nigerian government on national policies to advance women’s inclusion in peace and security, and speaking with Nigerian women about their efforts to counter the threat of violent extremism. Thank you for your kind words and support of their efforts.

Learn more about Pastor Ibanga:

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