You have likely heard of Malala Yousafzai: she represents the strength and potential that is embodied in a single girl. She reminds us that not all girls have access to education, and that for change to occur, you must stand up to discrimination and rise beyond it.
Malala was shot in October 2012 by the Taliban in Pakistan’s Swat Valley for defying their ban on girls’ education. However, her experience and time in recovery have not deterred her from campaigning for girls to go to school. Rather than accepting her attack by the Taliban as a necessitated response to rejecting their edict against girls’ schooling, Malala is recovering, in school again in the U.K., and has no intention to give up on the struggle for girls’ equality. Instead, Malala is utilizing the global awareness that she has created about girls’ under-representation in schools to fight for their rights to education.
The recognition that Malala has received as a spokesperson for girls is well deserved. She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and she was elected as the runner-up for Time’s Person of the Year in 2012. In addition, The Vital Voices Global Partnership has set up the Malala Fund to aid girls in obtaining an education. Beginning with a $40,000 grant for girls in the Swat Valley to receive an education, Malala’s Fund will progress the movement towards girls’ education around the world.
Malala also has plans to speak to the U.N. in July about the obstacles that girls face in achieving an education. She voices the concerns of all girls who have been discriminated against and kept from learning: “I have the right to education… I have the right to play. I have the right to sing. I have the right to talk. I have the right to go to market. I have the right to speak up.”