Malala Yousafzai was born in 1997 in Pakistan. Unlike many traditional families from the country, her father was an educator and encouraged his daughter to attend school. Many families had the mindset that a girls place was in the home and that an education was not necessary. However, Malala’s father believed that with education came opportunity and he wanted that for both his son and his daughter.
Pakistan, however, experienced a shift in control and the Taliban used force and threats to spread their message. This message included a traditional mindset and they began attacking girls’ schools. At 11 years old, Malala spoke up and gave a talk titled, “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right of education?” This talk became a blog about the Taliban’s threats to deny girls an education. Despite trying to hide her identity, it was later revealed that Malala was indeed the blogger.
Malala continued to speak up, even though the Taliban issued death threats against her. Until one day, when Malala was 15 years old and riding a bus home from school, a gunman fired at her. The bullet hit the left side of her head and left her in critical condition. After multiple surgeries to repair severe nerve damage, Malala recovered with no major brain damage.
Within 6 months, Malala returned to school. The event caught global attention and Malala gained incredible support. The Taliban thought those bullets would silence her, but in fact did the very opposite. On her 16th birthday, Malala gave a speech at the United Nations that focused on education and women’s rights, where she pleaded to world leaders to change their policies. The United Nations declared July 12th “Malala Day” in honor of her leadership and activism to ensure education for all children. The following year, Malala became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize at 17. Today, she continues to inspire and spread her message, while attending Oxford University. She has authored books and even opened schools to educate girls.
There are days we wake up and think, “Ugh, today I have to go to school.” Possibly try changing those words “I have to” to “I get to”…“Today, I get to go to school.” You have an opportunity that many young people around the world do not have. It is a reminder to not take it for granted. Every day is an opportunity to learn and determine how you can make your own mark in the world. If there is a moment that you doubt yourself or think that your voice doesn’t matter, remember that even Malala, who had all the odds against her, had a voice. For this week’s #MakeItHappen Monday, focus on how you get to learn, you get to drink clean water, you get to grow with the support of your family and friends. Tell us about your ‘I get to’ mindset shifts and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or share your story and tag us on social.
Go make it happen,
Luly & the YTeach Team
“Education is neither eastern nor western. Education is education and it’s the right of every human being.”
– Malala Yousafzai