Malala Yousafzai's Brave Fight for an Education Is an Inspiration for Every Girl

Malala Yousafzai, Women's History MonthMalala Yousafzai has one of the most incredible and inspiring stories of our time. As a young girl, she risked her life to stand up against the Taliban for girls’ right to an education -- and because of her, millions of girls around the world get to go to school, when they didn’t before. During Women's History Month, we recognize the difference Malala is making today. 

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Malala has literally changed the world, and she's showing us that people do not have to settle for what they've been told they have to do with their lives.

Who She Is

Growing up in Pakistan, Malala saw her hometown change drastically as the Taliban aimed to take power. Girls were banned from school, and over 400 schools were completely destroyed by the group.

Eleven-year-old Malala was not okay with this freedom being taken away from her and other Pakistani girls. Under a pseudonym, the young girl began blogging for the BBC about life under Taliban rule. She and her father Ziauddin, an educator, started a media campaign to preserve her and other girls’ right to an education.

Malala continued her activism and earned a nomination for the International Children's Peace Prize in 2011. She was also awarded Pakistan's National Youth Peace Prize. But Malala’s efforts didn't sit well with the Taliban. When she was 15, on her way home from school one day, her bus was stopped, and she was shot in the head, neck, and shoulder by two members of the Taliban.

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How She Is Shaping History

Malala recovered from her life-threatening injuries, but her incredible story doesn’t end there. In the weeks following her attack, more than two million Pakistani people signed a right to education petition, which led the country's National Assembly to ratify the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill.

Since then, she and her father founded the Malala Fund, which advocates for girls' right to education around the world and empowers them to demand change. She wrote an autobiography, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, to share her story with others.

She's won the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, she's been awarded by the European Parliament, and she became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, at age 17. She spent her prize money on helping build a secondary school for girls in Pakistan.

Malala inspires and empowers girls globally. She's made the future brighter for many people, and she continues to do more. Her organization's goal is to provide 12 years of free, safe, quality education for every child.


Her Words to Live By

Malala speaks of change:

Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.

Malala humbly speaks of her impact:

When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.

Malala speaks of equality:

There should be no discrimination against languages people speak, skin color, or religion.

Malala speaks of her legacy:

I don't want to be remembered as the girl who was shot. I want to be remembered as the girl who stood up.

Malaha speaks of hope:

Let us make our future now, and let us make our dreams tomorrow's reality.

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Why She Inspires Me

Her peaceful calls to action: Malala is a living example of the "pen" being mightier than the "sword." Knowledge can be extremely powerful.

How much she values education: At home, I try to teach my kids how important an education is -- that it gives you the ability to choose how you want to live your adult life, whether it's as a writer, a doctor, a farmer, a stay-at-home parent, or whatever else you want to be. Choice makes all the difference in enjoying life and finding fulfillment in work, as opposed to feeling oppressed or stuck. That's why education truly is a human right. And it's not okay to take people's basic rights away.

Her bravery: Doing the right thing sometimes means confronting a bully; it isn't always the easy thing to do. It actually put Malala's life in real jeopardy. But it was more than worth it.

Her feminist example: Malala shows me that women and girls all have a voice, and that strong voices cannot be silenced -- even by the most fearsome foes. Always stand up for what you believe in.

 

Image via VEGARD WIVESTAD GROTT/epa/Corbis

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