|The rally was organized by Austin-area activist Natasha Sharma. Sharma felt a personal connection to the girls, and felt it was important to bring an international spotlight to the issue.
"It saddened me to hear about how these young girls with bright futures have been abducted and brutalized by Boko Haram. It is unfortunate that President Goodluck Jonathan took so long to act on this pressing issue. Like many other people around the world, I wanted to help motivate the Nigerian government to take further action," said Sharma.
It was also important to Sharma to show solidarity for the missing girls. She wanted to highlight the community's concern for their safety. "I hope the attendees felt they had an opportunity to express themselves. The objective of the rally was to advocate for the girls, demonstrate support for the families, and give the event guests a chance to share their thoughts and opinions," Sharma explained.
To Sharma, the most important part of the rally was when she read the names of each of the girls aloud on the Capitol steps. "There is something so personal about seeing the names," she said. "It reminds you that these girls are people, just like you, and not some random, distant statistic."
There were about 40 people at Tuesday's rally, making it the largest one that has taken place in Austin so far. But this rally is just the first step in bringing attention to the Nigerian girls here in Central Texas. Another rally will be held at the Capitol this Saturday at 11 am. It's being organized by the Austin Nigerian Women's Association. People who are planning to attend are being asked to wear green and white, Nigeria's national colors, in solidarity.
For those in Austin who want to be a part of the #BringBackOurGirls movement, attending Saturday's rally is a good first step. Sharma also encourages people to continue using social media to put pressure on the international community to act. In addition, she stresses the "importance of writing to senators and encouraging them to address issues relating to violence against women, both locally and internationally."
It is because of grassroots activists like Sharma and the others at the rally that international pressure to find the girls is building. The movement has once again shown the power of online organizing and advocacy to provide a voice for those who need it. The world is speaking out and saying that it's time to #BringBackOurGirls.