In honor of International Youth Day being August 12th, and it’s theme for this year being transforming education, we wanted to highlight Malala Yousafzai. Malala has been an activist for education access for all since a very young age and is someone we admire greatly.
Malala Yousafzai was born July 12th, 1997, and was raised in a family that not only valued education for all but dedicated their lives to this cause. Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, was a teacher for a girl’s school and was determined that Malala would have the same opportunities boys had in Pakistan. Malala would always be inspired by the activism in her father and this would lead her to live out an extraordinary life full of tremendous sacrifice.
During her childhood the Taliban took control of many areas, one being her hometown, and enforced rules that changed the environment drastically. One of these rules enforced was that girls could no longer go to school. Malala was directly impacted by this but refused to submit. Not only did she continue to go to school but she often spoke out against the actions of the Taliban and how girls had a right to learn. At just 12 years old Malala wrote a blog that received much attention and from there was invited on television for interviews and more.
Due to the attention Malala began to receive she became a target for the Taliban. One afternoon on a bus ride home from school her and her classmates were stopped and a Taliban gunman shot her in the head.
Thankfully, this would not be the end for Malala. After being unconscious and in critical condition for some time she pulled through victoriously. When she awoke she had found people from all around the world had heard her story and rallied to her defense. Upon recovery and being relocated to the U.K. Malala said she had two choices: to live quietly or do something meaningful with the life that had been given back to her.
This is why Malala decided to create the Malala Fund. With this fund Malala would go on to travel the world to help demolish the barriers keeping girls from their right to education while concurrently going to Oxford and studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics. For all her accomplishments Malala became the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in December of 2014.
The ending to Malala’s story may be unique, but there are children everywhere denied the right to an education. Many of these children will live out their lives without ever being allowed to do one of the most beautiful things this world has to offer; learn. Others will speak out and can lose their life because of it. But because of people like Malala more of these children will be given safe access to education, and we have the opportunity to make a difference as well.
We hope that you were inspired by the life of Malala and are moved to do what you can to try and make a personal difference to this cause. Celebrate International Youth Day by donating to the Malala fund or another foundation that aims to give children the simple right to learn!