On Friday, we learned 17-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai will be awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize alongside Indian education activist, Kailash Satyarthi. This honour reminds us that education is a right many young women risk their lives for and one often denied through threats of sexual and other forms of gender violence.
Today, on the International Day of the Girl Child, we call on activists, world leaders, media-makers and civil society to mark Yousafzai’s historic achievement by committing to keeping the issue of rape & gender violence on the international agenda.
We haven’t forgotten the over 270 Nigerian girls abducted by Boko Haram militants from their classrooms on April 14, 2014. Most of them remain in captivity, and reports suggest some have been sold and forced into early marriage.
Yousafzai travelled to Nigeria this year, to demand the release of the schoolgirls. "To the girls of Nigeria and across Africa, and all over the world, I want to say: don't let anyone tell you that you are weaker than or less than anything," she said in a speech.
"You are not less than a boy. You are not less than a child from a richer or more powerful country. You are the future of your country. You are going to build it strong. It is you who can lead the charge.
In Nigeria, activists continue their struggle to find the abducted girls and end the use of rape and gender violence as a weapon in the ongoing conflict with Boko Haram. We echo their unwavering calls to #BringBackOurGirls and urge Nigerian and international leaders to support local women’s groups on the frontlines of this struggle.