The heroic women of Nigeria are standing up to Boko Haram

Leymah Gbowee – LA Times – Thursday, 14 May 2014 (originally published 13 May)

Nigerian women lead rally.
Demonstrators outside the Nigerian Consulate endeavor to raise awareness for the 276 girls abducted from their school last month by Boko Haram. Image: Kim Ludbrook / EPA

Weeks after the abduction of more than 300 Nigerian schoolgirls taken in a case of mass sex trafficking, the global media finally took note of the crime.

Why the shift? Because of the bravery of Nigerian women, who took to the streets to demand that the world pay attention. African women tend to be portrayed as victims — the raped, the suffering, the poor mothers of the poor girls. But across Africa, women are ending conflicts, reshaping governments and bringing attention to crucial issues. In this story, as in many others, they are the heroes.

As a woman and a mother, I pray for the safe return of all the abducted girls. I also applaud the strength of the women who continue to fight for them. They are African women — women who can function under the harshest conditions, who in the face of murder and rape continually stand up to fight. Strong. Resilient. Powerful. It is time for the world to put away the image of African women as victims and see them as the everyday heroes they are . . .

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