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#BringBackOurGirls

On April 15, 2014 over 200 girls were abducted from their school in Chibok, Nigeria by Boko Haram. Despite local, regional and global outrage and pressure, both on and offline, six months and counting, not one girl has been rescued, although over 50 managed to escape.

Join us in amplifying calls to #BringBackOurGirls. Add your voice to www.femnet.co/bbog – submit your poems, articles, blogs, vidoes or music ( Submissions@femnet.co). Take action here. Write to policy makers demanding that the girls be brought back NOW and ALIVE!

Here are some sample social media messages to use – in addition to some images.

See pictures and statement from a march held in Nairobi on May 15 as part of a Solidarity Day of Action to mark one month since their abduction as well as pictures from a solidarity vigil held to mark six months and as part of the Global Week of Solidarity Action.

My Thoughts: We have to Pray Hard, Raise the Volume of our Demands & Remain Vigilant!

By Norah Matovu*

It was with great shock that we read about the killing of the 147 people at Garissa University. I have struggled to find the appropriate words to say and in this end the blog by Felogene has enabled me to break the silence.

To all our our fellow citizens in Kenya and members of the East African Community, your loss is our loss and we were greatly saddened by the heinous actions of these men, born of woman, who are so reckless in their actions to cause so much pain and suffering in the lives of so many people. The scare alert is on in Uganda as well about plans to attack an education institution along Jinja/Kampala Highway. Security has been beefed up everywhere but we are also saying No: We shall not operate in the mode of fear. Unfortunately it was a day after the attack on Garissa that the Legal fraternity in Uganda lost one of our own, a Principal Senior Female Prosecutor, Joan Magezi, who was brutally murdered on her way home after work at around 7:15 pm.

Her murder was witnessed by three of her children, including one who had just returned from South Africa where she is undertaking her University education, to share the Easter Celebrations with her Mum and family members!!

Joan Kagezi worked with the Kenyan and Tanzanian Law Enforcement Agencies at the initial stages of the investigations into the Kampala bombing of 2010 by Al-shabaab terrorists which happened just a week before the African Union Summit held in Kampala. She was the principal prosecutor of the case. It is not yet clear whether her death is linked to the work she has been involved in but for sure she has paid a very high price as she was killed in the line of duty. Joan was a widow since 2006 when her husband pass on and she has put one shilling of top of the other to secure quality education for her four children – the last one only 11 years old.

Talking of education, women sacrifice everything to give their children better opportunities in life through attainment of a sound education. Many Ugandans have children in Kenya pursuing education in international schools and at the University level. The reverse is also true about the many students in Uganda from Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.  We have to remain confident on a daily basis that peace and security prevails as no one knows where these people want or plan to strike next.

Yes, I am lighting a candle for the senseless loss of life of young people in Garissa to keep hope burning. We all have to do the same. It is mind blowing to imagine the abuse that may have happened to the Chibok girls in the last one year. I fear the worst as these rebels like the one we had in Uganda, Joseph Kony of the Lords Resistance Army, who is now on the run between Central African Republic and parts of the DRC, have the habit of condemning young girls in their captivity to sexual slavery by assigning them to their generals.

The effects and impact of these experiences are so evident in northern Uganda. We have to pray hard, raise the volume of our demands, and remain vigilant. I hope with the change of Guards in Nigeria’s leadership a lasting solutions will be found to end the conflict in the north eastern region of Nigeria.

In Solidarity,

*Norah Matovu- Winyi, a member of FEMNET, currently working at NOMREK Law Consultants & Advocates in Uganda

Education Under Attack: #147NotJustaNumber #BringBackOurGirls

By Felogene Anumo

“Getting a good education is my best bet out of poverty,” said a 16- year old in Narok county in Kenya. Yet, on that fateful morning of 2nd April 2005 at Garissa University in Kenya, the dreams of 147 lives and their families were shattered into pieces. As I followed the events unfolding that morning and subsequent media coverage, I was overcome by a deep sadness and anger by the loss of young lives. Lives of young people and families who were filled with hope and promise that education brings.

Education Under Attack

We live in a world characterized by uncertainty, complexity and rapid change. For many young people, and more often in developing countries, education is the base and its importance for self and society cannot be overstated. For me, the decision of attackers to target institutions of learning where tolerance, co-existence and unity is fostered is both frightening and enraging. The Kenyan attack comes at a time when just a few months back, 20 teachers were killed in Mandera on their way to Nairobi for the Christmas break.

Bring Back Our Girls - One year and Counting. Photo Courtesy of FEMNET
Bring Back Our Girls – One year and Counting. Photo Courtesy of FEMNET

Regionally, we have witnessed similar attacks by extremists. Tomorrow, 14 April 2015, marks one year since the schoolgirls from Chibok in Nigeria were abducted by militant group, Boko Haram.  Despite a global campaign to #BringBackOurGirls, more than 300 young women are still under the hands of their abductors since their abduction from their school dormitories. A Global Week of Solidarity Action is currently underway to amplify calls for their immediate release and rescue, as well as to reiterate that we have not forgotten our girls. Globally, the world is still recovering from the massacre in Peshawar School in December 2014 that shook the entire world.

When education institutions are targeted or attacked, the damage and its consequences can be major and far-reaching. Notably, the current waves of attacks have had negative ramifications on the education sectors. For example, in Northern Kenya, many teachers have fled and have abandoned their jobs because of the increasing insecurity threat despite numerous reassurances from the Government on their safety. Nigeria on the other hand has the highest number of out of school children. Amnesty International publication “keep away from schools or we’ll kill you” reports that the insecurity generated by the constant attacks and fighting in Borno and other states in the north-eastern Nigeria led many parents to send their children away or leave the state, disrupting their education. Up to, 15,000 children in Borno State have stopped attending classes. The psycho-social effect of the attacks ensures that impact is felt by many people beyond the actual victims causing high levels of fear and stress. Ultimately, the longer-term impact of targeted and persistent attacks on education undermine social and economic development as they contribute to educational fragility and state inequalities.

In developing counties, families overcome various challenges to ensure that their loved ones get higher education. According to a UNESCO report, more than half of the world’s out-of-school children live in sub-Saharan Africa. More than one in five (22%) primary school-age children in the region have either never attended school or left before completing primary school. This is majorly due to perceptions of low quality education with poor outcomes for families, direct costs related to schooling and indirect loss in terms of losing a source of labour, especially for young women and girls.  Isn’t it enough that families of the Garissa victims overcame these various challenges to be in the University? What more can compound the already existing challenges to get an education than the risk of abduction, sexual violence and loss of life?

We Shall Overcome

The triumph against terrorism will require collective responsibility. Global leaders are currently concretizing what promises to be the benchmark of the development agenda in the form of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Right to Quality Education must remain a high priority in the proposed goals, targets and indicators, and must address all obstacles in the quest of good education. Above all, leaders must recognize that peace is a necessity for education.Together, we must strive to keep at bay these forces that endanger our dreams and aspiration of having a strong, educated and sustainable world with limitless opportunities for young people.

To the families of the victims and survivors of the terrible ordeal, you remain in our payers and our hearts.  In this trying time, let us cling on to the words of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Malala Yousafzai, a young feminist and socialist activist who was shot by the Taliban on her way home from school” So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution.”

Join me in sending condolences to the families of the victims and survivors of the Garissa attack. #147notjustanumber

Credit REUTERS Goran Tomasevic
Photo credit: REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
Felogene Anumo is a young feminist and a member of FEMNET. Connect with her @Felogene or fganumo@gmail.com

One Year On – We Have Not Forgotten – #BringBackOurGirls

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We are unfortunately fast approaching the one year anniversary since hundreds of girls were abducted from their school in Chibok, Nigeria.

A Global Week of Solidarity Action is currently underway to amplify calls for their immediate release and rescue, as well as to reiterate that we have not forgotten our girls.
In light of this, all citizens of conscience are invited to join in the solidarity week of action from April 8th – 14th April  to speak out and take action against increasing fundamentalisms and oppressive systems of patriarchy and domination which perpetuate injustice.
You will recall that our call for a solidarity day of action on May 15 which marked one month resulted in incredible mobilization from over 20 countries across Africa as well as globally – with the holding of vigils, fasts, prayers, marches, protests, sit ins, media engagements and more! Here in Nairobi, hundreds from all walks of life took to the streets to express their love, hurt, anger and solidarity.
There will be a Global School Girls March on April 14th. If you are planning any activities in your respective cities/towns/countries – please fill out this form:
 

Here are some social media messages that you can feel free to use and share widely, along with a mapping of relevant policy makers for the targeting of those messages. Some images can also be accessed here – please feel free to use and share widely. 

Please also let us know if you’re interested in writing op-eds, articles or blog posts in relation to the girls.

For any questions, please contact communication@femnet.or.ke

Amina Mama on Militarism

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“Development is about people, not guns. No amount of military power can bring about security in the absence of food, water, healthcare, affordable energy, decent work and a decent environment – all those things that have been enshrined in over half a century of lofty declarations, but which remain elusive in the former colonies. Needless to say surveys confirm that women do define security differently from men – not in terms of all-male armies and arsenals of weapons, or even in terms of national border policing– but in terms of security from poverty, and epidemics of disease,  in terms of freedom from violence and the fear of violence. Women –whose bodies are so often abused by men to spite other men – define security in terms of bodily integrity, that is freedom from violence, abuse and exploitation. For us rape is not just a ‘”weapon of war” but an endemic feature of our unjust and patriarchal societies, where misogyny lives in peacetime as well as in war-time.

Many of us have direct or indirect experiences of war, conflict and military rule. The appalling consequences this has for our societies and for future generations has compelled many women to work for de-militarization and peace. This was evident in the work of the women’s movements in Liberia and Sierra Leone, where women played key roles in ending disastrous conflicts during which men specifically targeted women’s and children’s bodies for rape, mutilation and other violations designed to terrorize ordinary people. Women’s movements continue to work against the long-term social and economic consequences of war and other violent attacks on communities, in ways that deserve far more support than they are currently getting.”

Excerpts from an interview of Amina Mama by Hakima Abbas  on the Feminist Wire – read the full interview here.