A Girl’s Fight for Education

“If one man can destroy everything, why can’t one girl change it?” This powerful and provoking challenge was declared by none other than Malala Yousafzai. You likely know the name Malala from the famous story of a young girl was shot by the Taliban on her way to school in the Swat District, Pakistan. An undeniable icon of the movement for girls’ education across the globe, I cannot think of a woman who serves as a more inspiring and motivating role model. As a future educator, I am in awe of her long-going fight for all that I value. As she often expresses, education empowers us and gives us the key to success and peace.

After surviving, spreading her activism, becoming the youngest person to ever be awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize and publishing her book, "I Am Malala," her name and story became familiar worldwide. Her global impact came after the terrible crime, but the reason she was a target in the first place was due to her already existing role in activism for girls’ education. At the age of only eleven, she started anonymously writing for BBC, a task that she agreed to after no other girls in her class would, in fear of retaliation. In 2009, the Taliban made proclamations that prohibited girls from attending school on multiple occasions. This caused Malala to begin speaking out publicly, especially encouraged by her father’s own activism. She was interviewed by Khyber News, Toronto Star and Capital Talk. She became the chair for the District Child Assembly and was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize. As she gained more attention, Yousafzai continued to raise her voice for young girls’ right to an education.

Following her attack, Yousafzai has lived in Birmingham, England and has since relentlessly used her platform to provide the opportunity for all girls to go to school. The Malala Fund was founded in 2013 and continues to do substantial work for access to education in countries such as Afghanistan, Brazil, India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria. She has spoken to infamous audiences, including at Harvard University, with Barack Obama and in front of the Queen of England. In celebration of her 18th birthday, Yousafzai and her foundation opened a school for Syrian refugee girls; she has continued to celebrate her birthday every year by speaking girls in different countries who are fighting for their own right to go to school.

Yousafzai’s voice is one that will never waiver. Her fearless pursuit for giving every girl in the world access to quality education is overwhelmingly inspiring. Thinking about her immense fight for girls’ rights reminds me of how incredibly fortunate I am to be receiving a college education. At such a young age, she has exemplified the power of the girl.  “Extremists have shown what frightens them most: a girl with a book.” May we continue fighting for the right to an education for our sisters everywhere, never forgetting that, together, we are a force to be reckoned with.