When thinking about influential women under the age of 25 these days, one name springs to mind. The young lady who has had my friends and I in jaw-locked awe is Malala Yousafzai. You will definitely have heard of her… especially if you follow the news.
When I was her age, my biggest concern was not being allowed to go to the Blue Light Disco to make puppy eyes at the latest hottie. The plight of other 16 year old girls around the world couldn’t be further from my mind. So just to re-ignite the embers of interest here’s a run down of why Malala will go down in history.
In Pakistan and in many of the middle Eastern countries, girls and women are not given the same right to an education as their brothers. The Taliban, perhaps, see education of females as a threat to their regime. So Malala was forced to use pseudonym when writing blogs for the BBC about what life was REALLY like under the Taliban. In 2009 she was only 11 or 12.
In 2010 a documentary was made about her life by The New York Times. This lead to her public speaking fame which she she chose to use to turn the spotlight on the plight of the inequality in educational opportunities in the middle east. This also lead to award nominations and the International Children’s Peace Prize.
Malala again made headlines in October of 2012, when the Taliban tried to shut her up for good by shooting her in the forehead, and killing her classmates who were on the bus with her. She spent many months in rehabilitation.
By April 2013 Malala had been on Time Magazine‘s ’100 most influential people’ list, and her face graced the cover of that issue. Standing tall in the faces of the terrorists.
Canada decided to give Malala an honorary Canadian Citizenship a few days after the first anniversary of the shooting.
She won the inaugural National Youth Peace Prize in Pakistan and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel slipped past her this year, but I know in my gut that she will get the honour in the years to come.
What this incredible young woman does in her spare time will change the world for the better and when she turns her sights on public speaking, she is one outstandingly inspirational person.
“One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”
I look forward to getting the chance to read this book as it has the potential to make a whole generation sit up and pay attention. How grateful I am that we to live in an era when 16 isn’t too young to have a say in the future of our planet.
Here is a link to the speech Malala made to the UN in 2013.
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
Published October 8th 2013 by W & N Non Fiction (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)(first published March 2013)
ISBN: 0297870920 (ISBN13: 9780297870920)