- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Categories: Blog, Feature
Joyce Watson, Labour Assembly Member for Mid and West Wales, explains her support for the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign.
“In October 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head as she made her way home on the school bus. That was the start of transforming her from an unknown schoolgirl in Pakistan to a global figure in the struggle against tyranny and oppression, and the right of girls and women to an education.
“Recently we have watched our televisions, horrified, as the story has unfolded of the kidnapping of hundreds of school girls by the Islamist group Boko Haram from a small town in the country’s north-eastern Borno state.
“Thank goodness for the distinguished Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka who, together with the imaginative Bring Back Our Girls campaign and leaders like former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, has woken up a previously ambivalent international community to pay attention to a conflict that was formerly viewed as a parochial ‘Nigerian problem’.
“Soyinka says that over the last 20 years, “religion has become mixed with politics to create a toxic brew”. Relations between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria have deteriorated as politicians sought grassroots support to buttress their own power.
“In our country the tabloid press delights in sending shivers of indignation down our collective backbones. On the other hand, I worry when I think of the Muslim women I know in Wales who tell me of the growth in hostility they have experienced in recent months.
“There are times, as in the case of Malala, where horror can be turned to good and we become more and not less aware of the rights of women to education. However, it can also be true that small acts of hate and hostility can fester and get worse if they are ignored.
“The positive messages we can take from these international stories is the importance of education and the need for us all to redouble our efforts to eradicate poverty from our societies.
“It was the patron saint of Wales, St David, who said “Gofalwch am y pethau bychain.” That means “Look after the little things.” Good things can come from small beginnings. Sadly, as recent events from around the world show us, the opposite is also true. If we do nothing when faced with hatred, we may have helped to create a monster.”