The world is watching as efforts continue to rescue more than 200 girls kidnapped a month ago from two boarding schools in Nigeria.
The militant group Boko Haram is a fighting force of thousands of men who believe Western education is evil and corrupts the morals of Muslims — especially girls.
It’s not the first time this has happened. A year ago, Boko Haram kidnapped women and children, including teenage girls, then traded them for members’ wives and children who had been arrested. Both times, the terrorists first threatened to treat the hostages as slaves, and marry them off, following an Islamic “belief” (depending on how one reads scripture) that women captured in conflict are war booty.
In February, the group killed 50 schoolboys at another boarding school. The unofficial name “Boko Haram” can be translated, “Western education is forbidden.” The formal name for the group means, “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad.”
Analysts have said the only way to make this group disappear is if Nigeria’s government manages to reduce the region’s chronic poverty and builds an education system which gains the support of local Muslims (BBC News: Who are Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamists?). To that we would add that empowering women is the only known cure for poverty.
For example, according to the Clinton Global Initiative, established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, “Around the world, girls and women continue to suffer from a lack of economic opportunity, inadequate health care and education, early marriage, sexual violence and discrimination. ... Empowering girls and women yields undeniable returns — for everyone in the community. In some countries greater investments in female education could raise GDP growth by 0.2 percent per year. By focusing on girls and women, innovative businesses and organizations can spur economic progress, expand markets, and improve health and education outcomes for everyone.”
Religious terrorists would rather keep women poor and uneducated.
Whether the terrorists are Boko Haram in Nigeria or the Taliban in Pakistan — that group shot 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai in the head because she kept going to school and speaking out about the importance of education — they are hurting us all.