Colleagues from ActionAid Nigeria will join a march today through the capital Abuja to protest at the abduction of nearly 200 girls from their school two weeks ago.
They are demanding more actionfrom the government to find the girls, who were taken on 14 April in the north-east of the country, allegedly by the insurgent group Boko Haram.
Some girls managed to escape but the parents of the rest of the girls are increasingly fearful that they will never see their daughters again.
ActionAid has condemned the abductions and has called on the government to do everything in its power to find and rescue the girls and to also immediately implement special protection mechanisms to “safeguard the lives and education of all children in Nigeria, particularly in the vulnerable north-east region”.
Early marriage is an obstacle to education
ActionAid Nigeria’s Country Director, Dr Hussaini Abdu, told me that the north-east of the country is already lagging behind the rest of the country in terms of the number of children in schools, particularly girls.
“In this area parents are already reluctant to send their daughters to school because of cultural and religious reasons. For example many believe that girls should be married at a young age and therefore they drop out of school,” he said.
ActionAid has found that once married, girls stop going to school. More than 40% of girls surveyedin northern Nigeria said early marriage was a major obstacle to their schooling. Another obstacle is a lack of female teachers and even a lack of toilets for girls.
ActionAid has been working for many years to help greater number of girls go to school in Nigeria and our work has increased enrolment and completion rates in primary schools by up to 50%.