I have recently read « I am Malala, The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban » of Malala YOUSAFZAI, with Christina Lamb.
A young girl from Pakistan, who, with her father, fought for education. Her story is very inspiring. Through the pages, I immersed myself in a totally different culture, history, language, religion. She was only 12 when she received the first Pakistan National Peace Prize. As a young teenager, she already fought for girls’ education by giving interviews to local and national radio, TV and newspapers… She even continuing fighting when Talibans began to forbid education to girls by continuing studying at school. Her father was also an important activist for education in Pakistan. He has built around 17 schools for boys and girls!
When she was only 15, she was targeted by the Taliban and on the 9th of October 2012 she was shot in the head when she was returning from school on a bus. They also hurt 2 other classmate girls. After some complicated surgery and months of recovery, Malala survived and her voice became heard all around the world. She became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, at only 17 years old.
« Let us pick our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and a pen can change the world. » Malala, during a speech at the United Nations in 2013.
I really recommend reading her inspiring story and learning more about her fight for education around the world. She is now a student at Oxford University studying philosophy, economics and politics and she continues her fight for girls’ education with the Malala Fund.
The Malala Fund
« Why is it that countries which we call ‘strong’ are so powerful in creating wars but are so weak in bringing peace? Why is it that giving guns is so easy but giving books is so hard? Why is it that making tanks is so easy, but building schools is so hard? » Malala, Nobel Peace Laureate Lecture, Oslo
She founded the Malala Fund in 2013 with her father in order to continue their fight for girls’ education. According to the UNESCO, 130 million girls between the age of 6 and 17 are out of school and 15 million girls of primary-school age – half of them in sub-Saharan Africa – will never enter a classroom.
« By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes. » Proposed target 4.1 of the sustainable development goals by the United Nations.
Their challenge is to fight against all barriers that prevent girls from going to school as poverty, war, child marriage, child labour, gender inequality and diseases. The Malala Fund works with local communities to help them stand against those barriers. Malala is developing a network of local activists in developing countries, the Gulmakai network and the Fund is helping those activists with their education fight. You can read some of the stories of the « Gulmakaï champions » here.
The Malala Fund mostly works with countries where the most girls miss schools like Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Nigeria and the Fund also helps refugees. 21.3 million people are refugees today and more than 50% of all refugees are under 18. Almost 80% are out of schools (more details here). The Malala Fund also works with countries that host Syrian refugees like Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
« Let us become the first generation to decide to be the last that sees empty classrooms, lost childhoods, and wasted potentials. » Malala, Nobel Peace Laureate Lecture, Oslo
You can also watch a film documentary about her story (it’s available on Netflix).