AWDF holds vigil for missing Chibok girls

Ghana’s Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur has condemned moves by Nigerian militant group Boko Haram to discourage the education of the girl child.

Speaking at a vigil organized by the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) and the Centre for Gender Studies and Advocacy of the University of Ghana, the Minister said educating the girl child is critical to the continent’s development.

Some 230 girls of the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, northern Nigeria, were abducted by the Islamist group Boko Haram a year ago, when they were preparing to write their exams.

Their abduction led to a global campaign, #BringbackourGirls which started on twitter, demanding the release of the girls.

One year on, over 200 of the girls are still in captivity although some of them have managed to escape their captors.

The vigil by the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) on the campus of the University of Ghana on Tuesday was thus in solidarity with the families of the abducted Chibok girls.

CEO of AWDF, Theo Sowa said the vigil was part of efforts to ensure the Nigerian government as well as other governments within the sub region do not give up on the girls.

“We haven’t managed to bring them back” she said “but if we stop pushing, you know that our governments will stop acting. Until we can make our governments take responsibility for all of their citizens, we cannot stop.”

“We have a new government about to come into power in Nigeria, they will need to be pushed as well, they will need to see that if they take action and bring those girls back, the people of Nigeria, the people of West Africa, the people of Africa will applaud their courage and will applaud their conviction and will applaud the fact that they have taken action to protect the most vulnerable in our communities,” she added.

Recounting the amount of advocacy that has gone into campaign to ensure the girls are rescued, Gender, Children and Social Protection Minister, Nana Oye Lithur said “we recognize and acknowledge the importance of education, and the value of education and condemn Boko Haram for stifling and saying that education of girls is wrong.”

She stressed “education of girls is very right and if we want to develop as Africa, we need to take the education of girls very importantly.”

Deputy Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts Minister, Dzifa Gomashie who was also at the event appealed for continued support for Nigeria.

“We should not just back off. We should not just forget them. We shouldn’t leave it for Nigeria alone. I think the world needs to come up and put their shoulders to the wheel and support Nigeria. It’s not just Nigeria. God knows maybe there are other children from other countries who live in that community who were part of this group of children that have been abducted. So it’s really in bad taste that we should look on helplessly while children suffer.”

The CEO of the African Women’s Development Fund however says they have already made grants available to help parents of the abducted girls in Northern Nigeria and is also making arrangements to help with psychological counseling and reintegration of the girls when rescued.

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