Actions on Facebook will not make the slightest difference

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ho hasn’t read the #bringbackourgirls signs and thought ‘yes, I agree, we must do that’?

I, like thousands of others, have brought my pressure to bear on the group of Nigerians, Boko Haram (meaning western education is forbidden), who have kidnapped 200-plus girls because they should have been at home being wives.

I have made my feelings plain by liking and sharing a status on Facebook.

Apparently the kidnappers are looking for supporters and affirmation in Nigeria by showing that they can get things done. And what a thing to get done.

While we’re all over here hashtagging the life out of a sentence, sharing ‘we must remember’ messages, we should remember that 200 girls, I repeat girls, are at the whim of rampant oppressors.

They’re waiting to be sold, or bartered, because they should be subservient to men and shouldn’t be educated. According to these fanatics, women are definitely not equal.

Sadly, our Facebook actions will not make the slightest bit of difference.

I worry that we use social media to assuage our guilt, that by clicking and liking we naively believe we’re making the world a better place.

In the world of social media, where actions are simply words, I’m as guilty as the next person of responding in the same way to a video of a cute dog as to the way I respond to kidnapped girls.

Let’s be honest, it’s not enough to write a hashtag in front of something and sit back and think that your job is done.

There is a beautiful poem by Martin Niemöller which tells of sitting back and doing nothing while other groups are abused. At the end of the poem, there is no-one to stand up for the author when it is his turn to be oppressed.

By all means hashtag and raise awareness of the girls’ plight, but then do something. Write to your MP, write to the prime minister, write to whomever.

Make sure you use your democratic right to speak out and persuade others to do something to help those girls and all women who are oppressed.

And the next time you hear a piece of everyday sexism, for example that women should know their place in the kitchen, stand up and say something.