#BringBackOurGirls march for awareness


Sophia McMorrow

Junior Sidney Baker and sophomore Stephanie Sanders hold a poster in the march. Students chanted phrases like "It's been one year, one year no change, bring back our girls" and "How many? Two hundred seventy six!"

On April 14, the Feminist Club organized a march to raise awareness for the Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped a year ago by the Islamist group Boko Haram. All over the world people marched to call attention to the kidnapping.

“Only five percent of northern Nigerian girls make it to secondary school. The abducted girls were ready to graduate and become doctors and lawyers. They are extraordinary, and they need to be rescued and brought home. All girls deserve education and protection while at school,” a representative from Bring Back Our Girls said on their website.

Over 270 girls were kidnapped from a school in Chibok, Nigeria on April 14, 2014. Fifty were able to escape soon after, but the others remain captive. According to The Guardian, women and girls kidnapped by Boko Haram are tortured, raped, forced to convert to Islam or married to members of Boko Haram. The group has kidnapped over 500 women, including infants.

“We can change the world together. Oppression can only exist in the dark – where people are unable or afraid to speak up. A moment like this makes us realize that each voice has power. As we socialize this message that girls matter; that a world where girls thrive is a world where everyone thrives, repression becomes more difficult. And then it becomes impossible. Educating girls around the world is essential,” the representative from the Bring Back Our Girls organization said.

I think people tend to forget about things like this, even when the problem is not resolved,”

— Katie English

On the one year anniversary of the kidnapping, the Feminist Club put together a march in only 72 hours to raise awareness for the girls. Starting at the high school, a group of 22 students marched to the intersection of Clayton and Baxter, then back.

“I was surprised and pleased that we had 22 students willing to take time out of their afternoon to be involved in the march, especially since it was organized within just a few days,” history teacher and Feminist Club sponsor Lara Boles said.

The students who participated interacted with people who saw the march, receiving honks and waves.

“Everyone who participated in the march really got into it, and it was clear everyone there was very passionate. Most of the people who saw us marching were curious, and seemed to have forgotten all about the Nigerian girls,” freshman Katie English said. “I think people tend to forget about things like this, even when the problem is not resolved.”

Even if students were not members of the Feminist Club, they were able to participate as well.

“I had heard the announcements during the end of fourth hour. It impacted me in a very positive manner,” sophomore Meamuna Paracha said. “Those girls are girls just like me and I really hope they are saved because they deserve a much better and brighter future.”

Participants even received support from friends. Senior Claire Webster, who  gave the idea for the march, witnessed it when driving by and tried to take a picture.

“I thought it was super awesome,” Webster said. “To see my idea being put to life, and for such a good cause, was really awesome. I think it definitely let people know that Parkway West is active in global response and knowledge, which is a great thing to be. It’s not very common to see people marching in this area, so the fact that they did it raised a lot of attention for the right reasons.”

Boles hoped that the march not only brought awareness to the kidnapped girls, but also to the students at school.

“I am hopeful that the community can see that our students at West know current events and are politically engaged. I think the community doesn’t always realize how involved and aware young people can be. I was very proud of the club leaders for organizing this and for the involvement of so many students,” Boles said.

Not only did the Feminist Club draw attention to the kidnapping, but Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the face by the Taliban for defending the rights of schoolgirls, published an open letter to the girls who were kidnapped.

“I look forward to the day I can hug each one of you, pray with you and celebrate your freedom with your families,” Yousafzai said in her open letter to the schoolgirls. “Until then, stay strong, and never lose hope. You are my heroes.”