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Noise Barrage for Women’s Rights to Education: #BringBackOurGirls

July 7,2014

Whistles blew as loud as they could, last June 27, 2014, as Scholasticans declared that all young girls have the right to education and that all practices, whether religious or cultural, that hamper and prevent girls from going to school be stopped. This was in response to the abduction of the more than 200 Nigerian school girls in Chibok City last April 2014. Up to the moment, the girls have not yet been released and there are fears that they might have been sold to sex slavery or given as “wives” to soldiers and militants.

These are not the only practices being done to prevent young women from improving their plight through education. There is acid throwing at faces of women in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. There is the bullying of women because they are different and the shooting of women for turning down sexual advances of men and for asserting their rights such as what happened to Malala Yasafsai of Pakistan.

As a Benedictine school which was founded to provide education for girls, St. Scholastica’s College expresses its commitment to quality education for girls and stands in solidarity with the world campaign to free the girls from Nigeria. Thus last June 27, 2014, the whole SSC community, opened the school year with a Eucharistic celebration with special intentions and prayers on the rights of girls to be educated. Three plywood boards carried the battle cry of the school : SAVE, EDUCATE AND EMPOWER with handprints of the students who registered their support to the campaign.

After the mass, a flashmob followed using Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Really Care about Us”. Members of the school community, students from Grade School, High School and College, faculty and employees, spilled out into the streets around the school demanding for the release of the Nigerian girls and to put an end to the discrimination of women. Whistles were blown for more than thirty minutes. Posters made by students carried the demand and pictures of the abducted Nigerian girls. Others masked their lips to illustrate the silencing of women. Campaign slogans were written on arms, palms and  cheeks.

The event ended with the Scholasticans re-affirming and re-committing to continue the fight for women’s education and to continue denouncing all forms of discrimination and harassment that do not allow women from achieving quality education.

Attached is the full statement of St. Scholastica’s College on Affirmation to the Rights of Girls for an Education. Statement was issued on June 27, 2014

ST. SCHOLASTICA’S COLLEGE STATEMENT ON AFFIRMATION TO THE RIGHT OF GIRLS TO AN EDUCATION
SAVE, EDUCATE, EMPOWER # BRING BACK OUR GIRLS

Last June 14, 2014, it has been more than two months since 276 Nigerian school girls  had been forcibly taken by fundamentalist militants named Boko Haram (roughly translated as  Western education is evil). The girls were taking examinations to enrol in the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok City in the north of Nigeria.

In the middle of the night of April 14, the girls were taken out of the dormitories and loaded on to the trucks and brought to places unknown.  On May 11, 2014 Boko Haram released a video of the girls threatening to sell them to sex slavery or give them as “wives” to soldiers/militants in neighboring countries.

This event triggered a wave of global outrage – from the girls’ parents to casual observers, to celebrities and international agencies and diplomats.  Netizens have campaigned for the release of the girls in the hash tag movement #bring back our girls.

What happened to the girls in Nigeria continues the long trail of exclusion of girls from education. We remember Malala Yasafsai of Pakistan who was targeted and gunned down by Taliban assassins inside the schoolbus.  By the grace of God, she survived this attack and courageously carries on her advocacy for girls’ right to education.

There are various cases of acts of hindering girls from getting an education in many parts of the world including the Philippines: acid throwing at girls who dare to speak their mind, bullying girls for being different, being shot at for turning down an invitation to the junior-senior’s prom, harassment because of what she wears and sexual assault for being out on the streets at night.

Critical observation of the events discloses problems of inequality and development  not only in Nigeria and the whole of Africa but in many parts of the world:

• Inequality between boys and girls
• Inequality between rich and poor
• Inequality between urban centers and rural villages
• Inequality between developed and developing societies
• Inequality between the First World and the Third World, inequalities that victimizes everyone but victimizes girls multiple times over.  These • inequalities are best  be solved through education of both boys and girls, and most especially education of poor girls.

The UN Millennium Development Goals has placed the education of girls on its top ten priority list.  Based on experience and research, an educated woman becomes a better mother who brings up well-nourished, healthy and intelligent children.

As a Benedictine School in the Lord’s Service and founded to provide education of girls, St. Scholastica’s College expresses her commitment to quality education for girls and stands in solidarity with the world campaign to free the school girls of Nigeria.  The world will resound with our battle cry: SAVE, EDUCATE, EMPOWER. Save our Nigerian sisters, educate all young girls and empower all young women. Let us all extend our hands in prayer and action for the freedom and right of girls to education. 

By: Ms. Rebecca Marquez
Dean of Student Affairs