Our #BringBackOurGirls Rally Demands Action

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Our #BringBackOurGirls Rally Demands Action

By Laura Speer
Marketing & Fund Development Coordinator, YWCA Rockford

As I rushed to prepare myself for work and my kids, ages one to seven, for daycare and school on Tuesday morning, the morning news played mostly unnoticed in the background. An update on the Nigerian girls abducted by the anti-Western Boko Haram terrorist group cycled in and I paused to ask my husband, “Have you heard about this… the 300 girls taken from their school in Nigeria?” He hadn’t.

I had, but just a mention of it weeks before as a flabbergasted media panelist asked, “What about the 300 Nigerian girls kidnapped from their school?” I hadn’t heard anything since; I assumed this meant they had been rescued.

When I got to work, my boss, YWCA Rockford CEO Kris Kieper, and I launched into discussion. “What if those had been American girls?” “What if there had been just one American girl in that group?” We were more aware of the progress, or lack thereof, of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 than this humanitarian issue. We knew we had to do something, at least make local law makers and supporters pay attention. So we pooled our local resources, including YWCA Rockford supporters who’ve traveled to Nigeria for humanitarian work, contacts from our local mosque who have personal ties to Nigeria, and local politicians who have shown support of the YWCA mission. 

We’re holding a rally and social media march today, May 9, at a local Peace Plaza. We’ve gathered local leaders of education, parties with a special interest in making a difference in Nigeria, and politicians to speak on the challenges Nigerian girls and their families face as they seek an education, and demand action for the Nigerian schoolgirls and girls education.

Here are more details about our event. I hope this helps as you plan your own:

Friday, May 9, 2014
9:00 a.m.
Keeling-Puri Peace Plaza, Rockford, IL

We created a Facebook event page and shared it with the creators of the Bring Back Our Girls page to share with their followers, as well as an email invite (PDF) with Rally and social media march information.

Our agenda includes

  • Flyers (PDF) which we’re passing out to the crowd with instruction for the social media march and signing the White House petition.
  • Opening remarks from YWCA Rockford CEO which touch on the YWCA mission and the unjust practices facing girls around the world.
  • Remarks from the local Rotary Club board chair who organized a humanitarian visit to Nigeria a few years back and has vowed to continue Rotary Club support in Nigeria.
  • Remarks from a Nigerian citizen who lives in Rockford and can offer her own personal connection to the Nigerian event.
  • Remarks from our School Board Superintendent, who will help tie the challenges faced in Nigeria to the mothers, daughters, and families in the crowd.
  • And, closing remarks from a Rockford mom who traveled to Nigeria as well and will deliver our call to action.

As removed and helpless as we feel in this devastating event, we know we can be heard. Just like YWCA leaders going to Capitol Hill during our annual National Conference, we have to increase awareness and let our elected officials know what matters to us — we the people.