#BringBackOurGirls

Boing Boing blogger Xeni Jardin said, “Maybe if the more than 200 Nigerian girls abducted from their school weeks ago were on a ferry in Korea, a jet liner in the Indian Ocean, in the owner’s box at a Clippers basketball game, or were white, the world would pay more attention.” Like Jardin, I wonder why it has taken so long for this tragedy to become “mainstream” news here. Now #BringBackOurGirls is trending and people every where are speaking out. These girls are being sold for $12. This is kidnapping, child marriage, and human trafficking.

But a hashtag and retweets aren’t enough. Even with news coverage finally catching up…are they telling the correct story? Besides kidnapping, child marriage and human trafficking, this is a government’s failure to act. This is Boko Haram continuing to deny Nigerian’s their human rights. NWU Gender Studies grad, Alexandra Hartmann wrote an article discussing the complexity of the issue in PolicyMic. Hartmann stated,

“This is a story that is at once entirely about these girls — their names, their want for education, their desperate families and an idle and untrustworthy government that’s failed them — and also not about them at all, but about the corruption and ineffectiveness that has made fighting Boko Haram unimaginable and disastrous, an unwillingness of the government to admit fault and the tactics of abduction, rape and forced marriage that are repeatedly used in warfare because the world fails to condemn them swiftly and absolutely. The one thing it is not about is the political platforms of these Western pundits.”

Even though life is hectic with finals, I urge all of you to take time to read and learn about this issue. Think about it critically. Care about it deeply. I hope it is not long before the media is sharing that the girls have been safely returned home and that a government is being held accountable.

Confidence Gap or BS?

As a woman just preparing herself to enter the work force, I took a lot of offense to this article in Forbes titled “The Top 5 Reasons Women Resist Investing In Themselves And How It Hurts Them,” by Kathy Caprino. She states that she has herself faced gender discrimination and sexual harassment and knows how “crippling” those can be, yet she is “less interested in the causes and much more interested in the solutions,” when it comes to helping advance women. Caprino says the confidence gap is real and that many women she works with, as a career coach and consultant, suffer from a condition she calls “intractable resistance to growth.” She gives her top five reasons why women don’t invest in their own growth:

1. “They need to check with someone else”

2. “They’re not sure this is the ‘right’ time”

3. “They’re not clear about the return on investment.”

4. “They’re scared that they’ll actually achieve more success.”

5. “They fear the money should be used for their family or others.”

So here is what I have to say: ignore the idea of the confidence gap, which is inherently victim-blaming, and see this as BS. The author says she is not interested in the causes but instead the solutions. I say, instead of blaming women for not being more like men in the work force, lets focus on the causes – because this IS the solution. Maybe if gender discrimination and sexual harassment were not daily occurrences, women would not be blamed for a “confidence gap.” These are the five points that I would like to make instead:

1. “They need to check with someone else”- I know that I ultimately can make the end decision but on most decisions in my life, I seek advice and guidance. I do not see this as a weakness. Everyone should invest in HEALTHY relationships because family, friends, mentors and role models are positive and do nothing but encourage growth.

2. “They’re not sure this is the ‘right’ time” – When many women who work are also the primary caregivers, is it really surprising that they might have times that are better when considering their families?

3. “They’re not clear about the return on investment.” – In this argument, Caprino believes that women waste too much time debating instead of just going for it. Taking the time on making a decision is smart and careful, and this process does not need to be criticized.

4. “They’re scared that they’ll actually achieve more success.” – While the author argues that women are too busy being perfectionists and multi-taskers, they hold themselves back from true success. I say more power to all the people who take on opportunities and give their all to the world around them. Success is defined by every person individually.

5. “They fear the money should be used for their family or others.” – According to the US Department of State, women invest up to 90% of their income back into their families while men invest between 30 and 40%. This develops communities. This improves likelihood of education and future success of children. This moves nations.

I do not agree with the confidence gap. I do not agree that telling women they are weaker and need to be more like men will achieve anything but making more people unhappy. I still want every person to care about themselves and realize it is okay to “do you”. But no one should be criticized for their definition of success and the process they decide on to get there.