BBBOG stands for the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls global social media campaign! There are a few things about what is happening in Nigeria that I feel should be discussed, but I do not hear in the articles I read or on the TV news shows I watch. I don’t hear about : the program plan for the education of women and girls in these oppressive countries, the lack of long term strategic planning for when these young girls are educated and the demand side (vile men) of “human trafficking” are not discussed.
So I YELL about programs in all oppressive countries where females are “forbidden to be educated”; “Who decided to educate these girls in an area without protection or a plan of safety for the schools? What is the career plan for these young ladies once they are educated? And what is the human rights plan for dismantling these vile men who are the demand side of a “horrific market” and can only be described as pedophiles?”
I hope this tragic event in Nigeria has opened the conversation about the plight of women and girls around the world. I believe that education is a “birthright” as Mrs. Obama stated in a weekly address. But I believe having a safe existence is even more important. According to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) “Education is a fundamental human right and essential for the exercise of all other human rights”. There are 174 countries that have the word “education” in their constitution and laws that ensure education as a “fundamental right” until adulthood. (NOTE: Only in some of these countries they include children with disabilities, but not in ALL countries)
Although it is rarely discussed and probably not well known, education in the United States is not a constitutional or legal right and it is not included in that 174 country count. The plight for children (and NOT ALL children) in the US was not addressed until the early 20th Century. The United States had to pass “the Child Labor Act of 1924” ending the practice of using persons under the age of 18 for labor. But unfortunately there were not enough states to ratify the federal law as many states simply refused. So President Franklin D. Roosevelt resolved this issue with the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938 (FLSA). (more to come in future blogs about 14c of the FLSA & people with disabilities)
Only the Native Americans have an actual law that provides “an unique responsibility” and fiduciary duty for the US Government to provide education. In negotiations for the trade of Native American lands they created the “Federal Indian Trust Responsibility which provides a statutory guarantee that the US Government provide Native Americans with health, education and welfare.” (Bureau of Indian Affairs – FAQs) Let us be honest and admit that this agreement is not going to well. I work with Native American advocates regularly and I know they would agree.
In the US children are provided education through the 10th and 14th Amendments of the Constitution. The 10th amendment gives the responsibility to the state and the 14th amendment assures fairness. As in almost all human rights laws there must be a system of laws that work together to ensure that the protection is functional. Society has an expectation for the experts to formulate and implement programs that are effective.
Who decided to educate these girls in an area without protection or a plan of safety for the schools? The education laws in place for young girls in the US encompass fairness in education, rights for them to be involved in extracurricular activities, safety in the school system and other rights. This system works together to protect the act of providing education to US children.
When I read about these programs that go into oppressive countries with the intent of educating young girls, I never hear about the creation of a system that would ensure this process. The plan usually is we are going to build a school, provide supplies, teachers and an evidence-based research curriculum. This is the basic idea for most “education philanthropic” endeavors, “Just throw some resources (money) at them and they will be alright.” Research has proven that the successful education of ALL children does not work that way. It takes a lot more than just resources to properly educate.
I never read about change management (the education of girls) that includes a whole system plan. A whole system plan is a long range and broad scope designed to take in account all uses of the outcome and potential changes in the implementation. In the case of educating young girls in oppressive countries, I think the plans should include but not limit: a legislative agenda set to change the laws of a country, a public safety plan to provide protection for all involved (the girls, their families, the town/village, their instructors and administrators), a labor plan which would include training and outreach to businesses and organizations in the country to prepare them to employ or further educate at an university level, the graduates. Which leads to my second question.
“What is the career plan for these young ladies once they are educated?” Lets take these 200 plus young girls in Nigeria. If by chance they were able to be educated and complete a secondary education, what is the next step for them? They would be educated young ladies in a country with no possibility of furthering their education and/or having a career?
I am aware that these women could change the system themselves because I am the product of such activism. But why not learn from our mistakes and in parallel work create a pathway, a legal and societal change that will provide true success for them.
My final question is something that makes me angry and sick at the same time. “What is the human rights plan for dismantling these vile men who are the demand side of a “horrific market” and can only be described as pedophiles?”
Most of the time these young girls are kidnapped from the schools and placed in the global human trafficking market. If you think this market is a new phenomenon and has not gone global you are mistaken. According to the US Department of State each year approximately 800,000 people (women, children & men) are internationally trafficked. In the US there are over 14,000 victims of human trafficking a year. As per the US Department of Justice over half of these victims are children. They also report that annually in the US there are over 200,000 children potentially trafficked into sex trade.
One of the posters out in the rallies for the #BringBackOurGirls read: Real men don’t buy girls! The activists in the crowd told reporters that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Indeed it is.
How do we DISMANTLE this misogynistic culture? There is another education program that must be as successful and work parallel to educating young girls and women. That program must be sensitivity and morality training for boys and men. It is apparent that we must teach our young men to not only respect women and girls but to also be brave and step forward to stop others who engage in misogynistic actions.
There is an old saying “Prostitution is the world’s oldest profession” well there must be customers for the work. We never discuss that side of the business. The end of this horrible trade must be done by the entire society. Like the work being done with the #BringBackOurGirls campaign has brought forth. I see the work being done with programs around the world, but we are far behind in the outreach and have many layers of culture to dissolve before this fight is won. There are millions of men who respect, care and love women and we need them to teach their cohorts to do the same.
My prayers are with the #BringBackOurGirls Nigerian young ladies and their families and all others who are suffering.
To learn more about:
Education not a US Constitutional Right: http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/10/why-doesnt-the-constitution-guarantee-the-right-to-education/280583/
Education as a human right: UNESCO
Federal Indian Trust Responsbility:
Native American advocacy:
Native American Organizations and Urban Indian Affairs:
US Department of State:
Trafficking in Persons Report – 10th Edition – 2010
June 2012 Edition: http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/192587.pdf
US Department of Justice – Federal Bureau of Investigation – Uniform Crime Reporting – adds Human Trafficking to Data Collection – May 2013