It was in the middle of the night from 14th to 15th April 2014, that 219 schoolgirls were kidnapped from their boarding school in Chibok, a mostly Christian village in the North-East of Nigeria.
Since then, some of the girls have managed to escape, others have been released; and the claim #BringBackOurGirls has kept being high on social media all over the world (www.bringbackourgirls.ng).
From Nigeria, Florence Ozor has been fighting to release those schoolgirls who have become the face of all Islamic terrorists’ victims.
Florence Ozor was born thirty seven years ago in Lagos, Nigeria. The third in a family of five girls, she grew up experiencing what it means to be a girl in a highly stratified and patriarchal society. Her parents however underscored the importance of a good education in breaking societal barriers and she became conscious of the importance that access to education contributes to the making of an empowered citizen.
A determined and successful woman, Florence studied History and International Relations and attended several courses on Leadership undertaken variously Lagos, Harvard and Singapore. Having worked in the Fashion Industry, Manufacturing, Advertising and Public Relations, she moved into Corporate Communications and Government Relations seven years ago and is currently also studying law.
In the course of her professional development she has never lost sight of the need to give back to society, particularly on issues of Social Justice, Equality and Freedom. Her activism is largely driven by a passionate commitment to making a difference and injecting feminist leadership into our often reactionary leadership discourse.
In 2014 when news of the abduction of the Chibok girls reached her, she was horrified that Nigeria's erstwhile leaders paid no attention to rescuing the girls. It was in this unfortunate situation that her companions and her heeded the clarion call to 'bring back our girls'. They broadened the base of the campaign and mobilized both local and international opinion to rescue the girls.
Florence and all the #BringBackOurGirls movement that she is leading remain relentless in their advocacy for the 113 remaining girls in captivity three years on (while 106 have already been rescued). They see their campaign as a metaphor for all women who are treated as spoils of war generally and not just as victims/survivors of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria.
A resolute feminist, Florence also set up the Florence Ozor Foundation (http://www.florenceozorfoundation.org.ng/) as a non-governmental, non-profit advocacy body dedicated to leadership and empowerment of women and girls in our society.
The Global Progressive Forum and PES Women have the great privilege to welcome Florence Ozor for their Conference on “Political Empowerment of Women in Africa and in Europe”, on 26th September in Brussels, as part of the S&D Group 2017 Africa Week.
Come and meet Florence and other speakers, and register at www.withafrica.eu