by Shelton Owen
Thousands of Niger’s people recently banded together to unite under one common cause-the protest against Boko Haram. The Islamic extremist group, ranked as the world’s deadliest terror group by the Global Terrorism Index in 2015, has continued to launch deadly raids into the country from Nigeria. People from various parts of the country gathered in the capital to support the nation’s army which is combatting the explosive issue. Those marching were not only voicing support, however; they were also voicing a plea. The nation wishes to urge other countries to step in and join the battle, one of security and displacement.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs ranks physiological needs as number one and safety as number two, but for the people of Niger, the two aspects go hand in hand. When women and children, whose main job is to collect fresh water, are being targeted and living in constant fear-their work is hindered. A roadblock for them isn’t just the difference between a little money or wealth, it’s the difference between health or disease contamination, the difference between a meal or starvation.
Back in 2014, the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls took the internet by storm when Boko Haram kidnapped nearly 300 girls from a northeastern Nigeria boarding school. Unfortunately it took such a large scale act for the rest of the world to turn their heads. But did more heads turn to look than fingers lift to act, specifically of nations abroad? The army of Nigeria and its neighbors, such as Niger, took to action, sadly unsuccessful in finding the school girls, but freeing hundreds of captives along the way. The nation’s army is working vigorously and should be commended for such accomplishments with limited means, but the problem is only hitting new heights in 2016. For example, WorldPost states that over 100 women and girls have blown themselves up since 2014, forced or coerced into serving as suicide bombers. The recent protesters in Niger aimed to bring light to the reality of the situation-these soldiers need reinforcements.
It’s evident that this group, and others alike, have a skewed view of women in society. It is not by standing by and remaining silent that change will be enacted, that justice for these women will be sought-it is through action and unification. By contributing to Wells Bring Hope you contribute to empowering these targeted women through education, sanitation, and entrepreneurship. The march in Niger’s capital is a step, but this fight undoubtedly requires a marathon. Let’s get running.