In Celebration of the International Day of the Girl: Malala Yousafzai and her quest to empower girls through education
Everywhere you look on the news right now is Malala Yousafzai. And how wonderful. I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough of her.
I can’t listen to her speak or read her interviews without crying.
Of course I realize that setting up people to be heroes can be dangerous – will they let us down? Are they the real deal? But at this moment in history, I am convinced that if there’s someone to give hero status to, it’s her.
Malala is the young girl from Pakistan who’s advocacy for the education of girls was met with attempts by the Taliban to silence her, most notably when one Talib invaded her school bus in October 2012 and shot her point blank in the head. Malala’s miraculous survival of the attack, and her tenacious commitment to see girls in the developing world given opportunity and education, has catapulted her onto a world stage and given her a platform unprecedented for any girl, much less a girl from a background like hers.
Her message rings stronger now than ever. Here is an excerpt from her address to the United Nations on her 16th birthday:
“They thought that the bullet would silence us, but they failed… Weakness, fear, and hopelessness died. Strength, power, and courage was born.” –Malala Yousafzai (Watch Malala’s full UN address here.)
This video from the Daily Show is making its rounds on the internet for good reason. Watch her inspiring interview:
In a world where women and children suffer incredible injustices, we’re slowly awakening to the fact that our future hangs on the balance of these being issues addressed.
Chief among injustices is the lack of access to education for children in developing nations. It’s proven that access to education paves the way for other injustices to be addressed and for positive change to come.
But that’s changing. Leaders have begun to look to young girls (and boys) to ensure that their dreams are heard, and the unlikely heroine Malala is leading the call.
“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.” –Nelson Mandela
Malala is nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize (and is overwhelmingly considered the favorite to win it). By the time this post goes live, she might even be the youngest Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in history. And for good reason – her life and her message is not only one of advocacy for girls and children the world over, but she’s an example of grace and peace, intelligence and passion, faith and fearlessness. Regardless of whether or not she wins the prize, Malala has won our hearts and captured our imaginations with possibility.
History is being made in front of our eyes. And it’s being made through a young teenage girl from a place of poverty where women have been oppressed for generations upon generations. Isn’t it just like God to use “the least of these” to confound the wise and to change the course of history? (I have tears in my eyes as I write this.)
Malala’s story is not just one of bravery and justice and resilience (although it’s all of those things), it’s one of redemption and healing and hope for our future.
And what better day to sing her praises and proclaim her virtue than today – the International Day of the Girl?
Malala, eshet chayil – woman of valor! Lead us on, little sister.
Dear friends, I’m talking to my three-year-old about Malala (and anyone else that will listen) and believing that her example will change all of our lives for the better. I hope you will help spread her important message, too, and help empower girls the world over so that they can reap the rewards of an education and, more importantly, the freedom to be all that they were designed and born to be. You can also check out the MalalaFund.org.
p.s. In case you haven’t heard, Malala’s autobiography has just been released – I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy.
This post is part of 31 Days of Women Empowering Women, as well as part of a larger movement of writers all over the world joining in with The Nester in writing everyday for the month of October. See hundreds of incredible #31Days projects here.