Youth protesters tell why they marched for missing Nigerian girls

Youth protesters have told why they took to the streets in support of the missing Nigerian schoolgirls.

One of A World at School's Global Youth Ambassadors, Purpose Osamwonyi Iserhienrhien, joined a march in the capital Abuja – while Nigerian student Mirabel Nkenke was at a rally in Washington, DC.

Purpose was at the Million Women March on April 30, which was led by former Nigerian education minister and Vice-President of the World Bank's Africa division Obiageli Ezekwesilieze, along with Women for Peace and Justice, civil society organisations and families of the kidnapped girls. 

Purpose said: “I am doing this to call on stakeholders to make our schools places of safety and security, where children can learn and grow in peace.

“Girls and young women must be allowed to go to school without fear of violence. Women and girls have the right to live free from intimidation, persecution and all other forms of discrimination.”

Purpose is one of several A World at School Global Youth Ambassadors from Nigeria who have called for action over the missing schoolgirls. They were abducted from their school at Chibok in Borno state on April 14.

The Abuja protesters marched to the National Assembly demanding the issue be addressed urgently. They left with a promise to the girls that they would all come back if the students were not released safely within 24 hours. Since then, protesters around the world have joined their cause. Rallies were held in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, South Africa and France.

Mirabel, a sophomore at Georgetown University, is Nigerian with most of her family still living there. While at the Washington, DC, rally, she explained: “This incident is especially heart-wrenching because I think that it could have been my sister, cousin or family friend.

“My brother and sister both attended school in Nigeria and I remember my mother and I praying for their safety every day and night.

“I cannot imagine the type of pain immediate families are feeling right now. But I know as a fellow human being I am sadden and deeply concerned with the current state my country is in.”

It took almost three weeks for the growing protests to gain international attention – but more than 500,000 have signed the petitionand #BringBackOurGirls has become a rallying cry around the world.

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