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Women's Groups Inexplicably Excluded From Talks On Boko Haram And Security In Nigeria

Although the Nigerian government might be making some progress in holding members of the insurgency group Boko Haram accountable for their crimes, the fact still remains that an estimated 276* schoolgirls are still missing following their abduction in April, and an additional 20 Fulani women have been kidnapped, whose whereabouts are still unknown, by the militant group.

Even though these attacks against Nigerian women and girls are clearly gender based, the Nigerian government and many international organizations have seemingly done very little to ensure that women are included in the conversation and action surrounding how to ensure that females are no longer targeted in the country.

During last week's global summit to end sexual violence in conflict zones, which took place in London, there was a meeting on Nigerian security.

Even though the topic was clearly one that directly impacted the female population of the country, women's civil society groups were excluded from the meeting.

Joy Onyesoh, the president of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom's Nigerian office, said that regional women's groups were aware that they are still being shut out of decision-making, and pledged to assert themselves more directly into talks about implementation and other action.

We – Nigerian women – have more on-the-ground experience. We live these realities; to us these are the issues we breathe, the fears we experience every day. I expect women's organizations from Nigeria and other countries to be included from the onset of the regional security talks.

The WILPF, along with other women's groups in the area, have met on a regular basis in the country's capital of Abuja to determine how to make themselves more a part of the conversation hosted by heads of state and other human rights organizations.

*Editor's Note: The actual figure of Nigerian schoolgirls who were abducted varies from source to source, but US intelligence estimates that number to be 276.

H/T: The Guardian, Photo Credit: Shutterstock