Every so often, plenty of us are asked the question: “If you could have dinner with any person, dead or alive, and pick their brain for the evening, who would you choose?” For me, the answer is Malala Yousafzai. It was just recently her birthday, July 12th, declared by the UN to be Malala Day. The inspiring Malala herself celebrates this day by visiting girls in refugee camps, third-world countries, and war-torn regions, advocating for their education. This day recognizes Malala and all the work she has done for girls’ education, thus far and henceforth. In honor of her most recent birthday and her #GirlPowerTrip, in which she travels the world, listening to the challenges girls face and fighting for their right to an education, it’s worth learning about this amazing young vina. Read on to learn about Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Laureate-winning, incredibly strong activist we can all look up to and celebrate!
Malala was born in the Swat Valley of Pakistan to an educator father who hoped to give her the fulfilling education any boy would receive. After the Taliban took control of her hometown, Malala carefully spoke out against their oppressing force and advocated for girls education through her blog for BBC. One day, on the way to school, Malala was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban as punishment. Though she was badly wounded, she survived. Being the extremely brave and passionate person she is, Malala decided to continue her fight for equality in education by establishing the Malala Fund and began to travel the world to speak to girls as hungry to learn as she is.
Since then, Malala has opened a school for Syrian refugee girls; crusaded the campaign #YesAllGirls to advocate for leaving no young girl without education; met with world leaders to spread her message; and reached out to thousands of girls, may they be impoverished, refugees, or discriminated against. Not to mention, she won the Nobel Peace Prize. She is the youngest ever to do so.
Most recently, Malala visited Yazidi girls in Kurdistan, a region in Iraq. These girls have had to escape the bonds of child marriage and the looming threat of ISIS, which targets the religious Yazidi minority, in order to go school each day. These girls are full of ambition and hope. Malala also spoke out against the faltering education system, especially for girls, in Nigeria and encouraged government action.
Ever since I learned of Malala’s mission and her extreme bravery, I have followed her cause and tried to spread the word about her work. To me, she campaigns for one of the most important things in the world: education– for all. Too many girls around the world are not given the opportunity to learn what they should, and I find it incredibly inspiring that Malala recognizes that her struggles are not one-of-a-kind. She knows there are many girls around the world who are criticized for their hunger for knowledge, just as she was. She hopes to shine a light on their troubles for the world to see, and to fight to end the struggle; to spread the power and value of educating the female population and giving them their right and just chances to make the world a better place.
Malala is only twenty years old, but she has encouraged and created astonishing amounts of change in such a short time. There is a reason why she’s a role model, not only for me, but for so many women (and men) around the world. As Malala herself puts it, “I tell my story, not because it is unique, but because it is not. It is the story of many girls.”
Do you agree with Malala’s passion for girls education? Comment below and share the Malala love. Download Hey! VINA to meet other women who share the ambition and strength Malala advocates for!
(Featured image via Malala Fund)