It is rare nowadays to witness young adults make a prominent difference in the world, which is why the Pakistani twenty-two years old female, Malala Yousafzai, has shocked and inspired millions. Her maturity in regards to reflecting on the horrid experiences dealt with in the past is immediately noticed which establishes great fondness and credibility for all that she believes. The right of an education for all is a fight she continues to embark upon until there is no difficulty to reach one’s educational goals. Through her continued determination to get her beliefs across to those who have the power to make her dream a reality, she has already shaped many lives for the better and has brought awareness to this ongoing issue.
It is no secret that Malala experienced a life-threatening event when she was only fifteen years old. While seated on a bus heading home from school on October 9th, 2012, two members of the Taliban stopped the bus and it was then that she was shot, which caused her life to change forever.
Before this tragic event, Malala lived a normal lower-middle-class life in Pakistan. She grew up in the city of Mingora with her two younger brothers, mother, and father. Malala’s early childhood was one of happiness and peace. Her father was a teacher who ran several schools. Many Pakistani girls did not attend school, but this was not the case with Malala. Her father ran a school for girls where Malala attended. Around the time Malala was ten years old, the Taliban began to take over the region where she lived. As the Taliban gained more control, they began to enforce new laws. These laws would soon lead to shutting down the all-girls school that Malala attended. With this happening, soon Malala started a blog using a different name for her safety. She chose the pen name ‘Gul Makai’, a heroine from a Pashtun folktale (biography.com). However, once the Taliban figured out who she was she soon became a target.
The shooting resulted in a massive outpouring of support for Yousafzai, which continued during her recovery. Six months after being shot, Malala went back to school to continue her education. However, the main thing on her mind was how she would be able to inform the world about the eminent struggle for education many still experience today. She stated, “the terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born”.
As someone with a mindset of great determination, Malala has expressed her views throughout the world. Nine months after being shot by the Taliban, Yousafzai gave a speech at the United Nations on her 16th birthday in 2013. She highlighted her focus on education and women’s rights, urging world leaders to change their policies.
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Following this event, June of 2015 she visited the United States Congress in Capital Hill and expressed her concerns as an activist for educational rights. With great confidence she publicly stated, “It is time that a bold and clear commitment is made by the US to increase funding and support governments around the world to provide 12 years of free primary and secondary education for everyone by 2030”. Her fight for the right to education and its funding has affected everyone in regards to understanding the true importance of having an education. With continued statements from Malala, she has opened the minds of many and continues to make a difference in this department.
Not only has she come to the United States multiple times to address her concerns, but she has inspired others to take initiative in starting non-profit organizations to help those in need. With her continued spread of awareness about the importance of a funded education, many programs have begun to help transform her ideas into actual actions. When she spoke to the Congress at Capitol Hill, she used the example of when comparing others to activists like Nelson Mandala and Martin Luther King Jr. and added: “But we never realize that they are normal humans like us and, if we step forward, we can also bring change – just like them”.
There is no doubt that with the continuous fight for change Malala has done, some type of recognition is deserved. In October 2013, the European Parliament awarded Yousafzai the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in acknowledgement of her work. In October 2014, Yousafzai became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, at just 17 years old. Pakistani Prime Minister stated: “She is the pride of Pakistan, she has made her countrymen proud. Her achievement is unparalleled and unequaled. Girls and boys of the world should take lead from her struggle and commitment” (Nawaz Sharif).
In 2013, Yousafzai and her father launched the Malala Fund, which works to ensure girls around the world have access to 12 years of free, safe, quality education. The fund prioritizes assistance to its Gulmakai Network — a reference to the pseudonym Yousafzai used when she wrote her BBC blog about life in Pakistan under Taliban rule. These countries, including Afghanistan, Brazil, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey, are where most girls miss out on secondary education.
For her 18th birthday, in July 2015, Yousafzai continued to take action on global education by opening a school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon. Its expenses covered by the Malala Fund, the school was designed to admit nearly 200 girls from the ages of 14 to 18. Yousafzai proclaimed, “Today on my first day as an adult, on behalf of the world’s children, I demand of leaders we must invest in books instead of bullets”. These are just a few of the numerous events that Malala has taken part in to promote her fight for the right to education for all.
Malala is an inspiration of many around the world, including myself. I always thought that only certain important people could make a difference in the world, but according to Malala, “You have to come forward and take full participation in changing the world, whether that is through charity work, raising funds, raising awareness, through using social media”. She has opened my eyes to the possibility of creating a difference in the world. My passion for non-profit organizations and the right to healthcare has followed me for years, however my lack of confidence has kept me quiet. Malala encourages others to participate in their passions and beliefs and which is what is so unique about her.
We have the chance to make a difference in our daily lives and Malala stated that, “You have so many resources, so many opportunities in front of you, so you need to ensure that you use that for the good purpose of making the world a better place”. I could not agree with her more in regards to this statement. We are the only ones that can make a significant impact on the world when we fight for what we believe is right.