Prayer Focus for June 2014
Praying for Girls and Education
The simple act of educating girls has been under attack for years. And not just in Nigeria. The kidnapping of nearly 300 Nigerian schoolgirls last month by Islamist militants has highlighted the troubling reality for young females daring to learn.We keep in mind this is not just something happening somewhere else in the world but we as The Salvation Army are affected by the global resistance for girls to go to school because we provide this education often in the face of this resistance.
Addressing the needs and rights of women and girls across the globe is essential to alleviating poverty, achieving social justice and accelerating progress on all of our global development goals. Now 16 years old, Malala Yousafzai was nearly killed when a Taliban gunman shot her after she boarded a school bus in 2009.
Schools are not immune to the war-fuelled violence that has gripped Afghanistan over the past decade. There were at least 1,110 documented attacks at schools — including arson, explosions and suicide bombings — from 2009 to 2012, according to the United Nations.
Motives for the school attacks have included opposition to ‘Western teachings’, perceived affiliations with Western groups — and the education of girls.
Somalia’s schoolchildren have been victims of suicide bombings on school grounds in recent years. Al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda affiliate that masterminded the attack on a Kenyan mall last September, has reportedly targeted schools that don’t comply with a strict Islamic ideology.
‘This violence and harassment has caused teachers to flee, hundreds of schools to close for varying lengths of time, and students, particularly girls, to drop out in large numbers,’ according to the Global Coalition report.
In Mali poverty has been a major hindrance to education in this West African nation, where only about 56 per cent of girls are enrolled in primary school — compared to 70 per cent of boys.
Girls are under intense pressure to stay at home to help with housework, according to UNICEF. Some are also expected to work as child labourers in the country’s gold mines.
In Syria the civil war that broke out three years ago has disproportionately affected girls, whereas most girls receiving an education before the strife have since dropped out in larger numbers. There are fewer physical places to learn since the fighting erupted. The United Nations found in April 2013 that 2,445 of the country’s 22,000 schools were damaged or destroyed — and nearly 2,000 of the structures were converted from classrooms into shelters.
As people’s economic situations become more dire, the idea of marrying off children becomes more attractive.
Violence has also frightened families into keeping their children, particularly their daughters, at home.
Pray for the safety of girls as they go to school
The journey to and from school can be risky for females — especially in rural areas where children must walk long distances. Even older girls often must leave their rural communities to pursue higher education, making them vulnerable to attacks in a more urban setting. A 2009 UNICEF survey conducted in Zimbabwe shows girls are sexually abused nearly six times more often than boys.
We ask God to honor the desire of these girls’ hearts to become educated, and provide them with safe passage to and from school and while they are in class.
Romans 12:2 English Standard Version (ESV)
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Proverbs 18:15 (ESV)
An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.