"One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen, can change the world." – Malala Yousafzai
The embodiment of courage and strength, Malala Yousafzai is a name we must all get to know. On October 10th, 2014, at the age of 17, Malala became the youngest recipient of the Noble Peace Prize in honor of her “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”. [wp_ad_camp_1]
“She is (the) pride of Pakistan. She has made her countrymen proud. Her achievement is unparalleled and unequalled. Girls and boys of the world should take the lead from her struggle and commitment.” – Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif
The Nobel Peace Prize was presented jointly with 60-year-old Hindu Kailash Satyarthi, a dedicated campaigner for children’s rights in India. The historic and poignant meaning of the joint award was highlighted by the Norwegian Noble Committee, announcing the event “as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism”.
A Pakistani activist and outspoken leader, Malala Yousafzai has become an icon for female empowerment and education around the world. Her notoriety comes from her open, powerful, and blunt advocacy for women’s’ education in her native Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan, a region controlled by the Taliban who at times banned girls from attending school.
“I’m here to speak up for the right of education for every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all terrorists and extremists” – Malala Yousafzai, United Nations, July 12th 2013
Malala’s name first became known when at 11 years old she wrote a blog post under a pseudonym for the BBC detailing her life under the Taliban occupation and her views on promoting education for girls in Swat Valley. The following summer, the New York Times made a documentary interviewing Malala and her father on their lives in Swat Valley, triggering an explosion in media coverage.
Malala Yousafzai truly became internationally recognized in October 2012, when a Taliban shot her in the head on her way to school. She recovered fully from the injuries, and went on to be chosen as TIME’s runner-up for Person of the Year in 2012, and later to be named one of the world’s 100 Most Influential People in 2013. Malala’s local activism had spread into an international movement.
“All I want is an education, and I am afraid of no one” – Malala Yousafzai
On July 12th, 2013, in her first public speech after the attempted assassination, Malala spoke at the United Nations in front of over 500 education advocates from around the world, and called for worldwide access to education. This day was coined “Malala Day”, to which she responded:
“Malala day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voices for their rights” – Malala Yousafzai
The day became an inspiration for an even greater movement, the “Malala Fund”, an organization that amplifies “the voices of girls to keep them in the spotlight”, advocates “at the international, national and local level for policy and system changes that give girls access to a high quality education at a community level” and invests “in community centered scalable solutions that provide quality education”.
“The important thing to note is that it is not important whether Malala was shot or not – Malala is not asking for personal favors or support. She is asking for support with girls’ education and women’s rights. So don’t support Malala, support her campaign for girls’ education and women’s rights” – Malala Yousafzai
For more information on the campaign and on how you can support, check www.malala.org.
For a more thorough reading on Malala’s journey, read I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban realease October, 2013, just a few months after the proclamation of “Malala day”.
To watch Malala render Jon Stewart of the Daily Show speechless, click here.
“If he [the Talib] comes, what would you do Malalala? …If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there will be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others…with cruelty...you must fight others but through peace, through dialogue and through education…then I'll tell him [the Talib] how important education is and that I even want education for your children as well… that's what I want to tell you, now do what you want." – Malala Yousafzai on the Daily Show
Image via: United Nations Information Centres