Beyond the ghastly horror of Boko Haram’s mass abduction of teenage girls in Nigeria, the terrorist group’s agenda is to keep women uneducated and subservient — a goal that demands a forceful response from the United States and the world.
When women prosper, so do their families — and so do their nations. That’s why those who champion ignorance and sexist oppression — like Boko Haram, whose name means “western education is a sin” — must not be allowed to prevail. Their victories stand as defeats for the global push to promote equality and economic development.
“No country can get ahead if it leaves half of its people behind,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry proclaimed in 2013. “Gender equality is critical to our shared goals of prosperity, stability and peace.”
The Nobel Prize-winning Grameen Bank — which four decades ago pioneered microloans in an effort to promote income-producing activities among rural poor people — says 96 percent of its borrowers are women.
That’s no accident. Bank officials say women are more likely than men to use their earnings to better their living situations and to educate their children.
UNICEF, the United Nations agency whose mission is to make the world a better place for children, also works on the premise that advancing women’s rights pushes ahead the rights of all humanity. Among UNICEF’s goals is to ensure equal access to education for girls.
Boko Haram aims to stop that in Nigeria.
The group brazenly abducted 300 girls three weeks ago because the young people had the courage to attend school. Eight more girls were taken Monday — hours after Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau was seen on video vowing to continue taking girls and selling them into slavery.
The organization killed as many as 300 people in the town of Gamboru Ngala earlier this week when terrorists fired into crowds at a market.
President Barack Obama is lending FBI and U.S. military personnel to the region to help rescue the girls. We hope those forces can strike a decisive blow against such despicable repression.