Bring Back Our Girls-Nigeria

New Forms of Social and Political Action: A Study of #BringbackOurGirls, Nigeria

This project examines how progressive social and political action emerges in situations of fragility, conflict and closed political spaces, the trajectories they take and their impact on empowerment and accountability, with a focus on the #BringBackOurGirls (BBOG) movement. BBOG is one of Nigeria’s intense social media driven and female-led actions. It emerged in April 2014 following the abduction of 276 girls by the violent extremist group Boko Haram from government girls’ secondary school Chibok, Borno State North-East Nigeria. Our study attempts to understand the pathways the movement has taken and the impact it has on empowerment and accountability, within the context of fragility, conflict, and violence in Nigeria.

Within the broader social and political action framework, the BBOG movement is particularly important because it has created a rupture in the complacency with which violence against women (including kidnapping and sexual enslavement) occurs. The campaign has become a point of convergence for building a sustained coalition encompassing political leaders, celebrities, youth activists, students, human rights groups and other concerned Nigerians to press the government to provide an effective response in working to bring back the abducted girls. Despite the deep schisms in Nigerian society, the campaign cut across generations, gender, ethnicity, and religions.

In spite of its reliance on social media, the campaign utilizes a blended approach to achieve impact. This involves regular (monthly) protest meetings across multiple sites in different cities especially in Lagos and Abuja and on other occasions, to mark milestones in the abduction of the girls, carrying out public protests and demonstrations in Abuja and Lagos. We sought to examine what it is that allowed this social media-led campaign to flourish while other similar efforts did not generate sustained action.

The #BringBackOurGirls project is part of a broader programme – Action for Empowerment and Accountability (A4EA) – an international research programme which explores how social and political action can contribute to empowerment and accountability in fragile and conflict-affected settings. The countries of focus are Egypt, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, and Pakistan.

A4EA is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

Methodologies used in the study

This is a multi-method case-study approach that includes:

  1. Online content analysis – tracking of the movement’s online presence and activities (Facebook, website, and Twitter).
  2. Process tracing that constructed the sequences of events, critical junctures and the contributions of specific actors and technology in making the movement popular.
  3. Ethnographic methods – member focussed surveys, in-depth interviews, FGDs, narrative biographies of key players in the movement’s moments and participant observation of the BBOG sit-outs in Abuja and Lagos
  4. Embedded research to policy uptake (Utafiti Sera) approach that involves core stakeholders in the design of the study to enable the uptake of the research evidence into inclusive policy and programme actions.

Project activities in the news:

  1. One-Day Stakeholders’ Dialogue on the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) Movement
  2. Amplified Radio
  3. News report on Silverbird Television
  4. News Agency of Nigeria- CSO canvases political parties’ support to tackle gender violence
  5. Oak TV
  6. The Leadership Newspaper: Rescue Of Leah Sharibu, Chibok Girls Not A Favour, BBOG Insists
  7. The Guardian Nigeria: Senators, Aisha Yesufu, group blame Buhari for raging carnage: June 26, 2018

Other publications

Using social media for long-haul activism: lessons from the BBOG movement in Nigeria

How Bring Back Our Girls went from hashtag to social movement, while rejecting funding from donors

Bring Back Our Girls Movement And A Culture Of Decent Dissent