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Malala: A Relentless Fighter for Girls' Education

Ravi Kumar's picture
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World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim speaks with Malala Yousafzai at the World Bank on Friday, October 11. Malala is an education activist from Pakistan who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for attending school.

A year and two days ago today, a teenage girl was riding the school bus in northern Pakistan. Suddenly, a Taliban gunman got on the bus. He shot her. She almost died.

Today, she spoke about her passionate and courageous fight for girls’ education with World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim in Washington, D.C. Dressed in an orange tunic and black head scarf, 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai eloquently expressed her profound views about girls’ education around the world. 

 “I want to help those children who are out of school,” said Malala, sitting on a stage whose backdrop read “I Am Malala,” the title of her new book released this week.

She answered a variety of questions from the audience, some personal, some about her cause. She said even though her favorite subject is physics, she is weak in it. She shared her experience at home about how her young brothers at times don’t understand the importance of the work she is doing: empowering girls.

Malala was touching and articulate, but also humble and funny.

 “You have become an agent of change,” said Kim to Malala. He announced a donation of $200,000 to the Malala Fund, her organization that helps girls around the world achieve education.

Even though the world has made remarkable progress in the last few decades, 32 million out of 62 million children who are not in school are girls. Malala wants to change that.

Educating girls, equipping them with skills to compete in the global economy, is the right thing to do. It is also smart economics. Women represent 40 percent of the global workforce. Yet they remain one of the most underused resources. This can be changed if we start to do everything we can to ensure that each and every girl has access to quality education, as Malala advocates.

There is already overwhelming evidence about why it’s imperative to educate girls. A girl with an extra year of education can earn up to 20 percent more as an adult. Educating women has already prevented more than 4 million children’s deaths between 1970 and 2009.

I have seen firsthand the disadvantages and advantages of girls’ education. As a first-generation college-educated young man, I have been able to understand in retrospect the struggles my mother faced when she was raising my siblings and me. She wasn’t able to help us with our homework or problems we faced in school. Worse than that, as I have written before, she has faced difficulties in doing basic things like opening a bank account or using a phone.

In some ways, my country, Nepal, is like Pakistan. Both have traditionally repressed girls and women. But things are starting to change. Net primary enrollment has increased to 95 percent and gender parity has been achieved in Nepal. My country has also been able to cut in half the number of mothers who die in childbirth.

It is hard to not be grateful for the momentum Malala has created about why the world needs to immediately act to empower girls. As we face global challenges, it is more important than ever for us ensure that all humanity is ready to tackle common problems. We can’t address issues like climate change or youth employment without making sure girls are educated and empowered.

Malala represents the aspirations of girls from Bangladesh to Brazil. She is that voice that shakes our moral conscience and asks us to do what we should have already done: ensure no other girls face threats in an attempt to get education like Malala did.

Today, on the International Day of the Girl, let’s remember Malala’s vision and make it a reality.

As she said, “I believe that when we work together, that it’s really easy for us to achieve our goals."
Malala Calls for Girls Education, is Thankful for Nobel Nomination

Comments

Submitted by Vikas on

Malala has raised the issue of girls empowerment and education and changed the mindset of millions of people round the globe regarding the benefits of girls education.The way she is fighting for girls education is incredible .At this age where kids just start learning about the things is society ,she has been an example for all the girls on earth and for all the parents that what the girl/women power is. Every parent would like to have a kid like Malala who has determined to change the world with education. The current momentum has been created by her should be carried upon and all the governments round the globe should pledge towards the girls empowerment .It is a proud moment for her and her family and for the world that a kid who has nearly lost her life to Taliban is now standing against terrorism with a weapon called education who can't even change the civil society but the mind of terrorists.She has raised the issue of Girls education to a new level where indepth analysis is being done again and again that how girls education can also change the other problems youth employment, crime against women, gender inequality. She is just not a poster girl for education but for all other fundamental problems of the society which can only be changed with the education especially girls education.
Hats off to 16 year old kid - "Malala"
The whole world proud on Malala. This is a moment where we can change the mindset of the people/communities who are against the education and uplift those communities by guiding them to show the doors of education.Persons like Malala are born once in a century. We must, therefore, all remain very proud of her for her achievements which she has accomplished at such a tender age.

Submitted by Amina Saguti on

Africa-Tanzania should be the next Country to be watched over young girls issues. There some issue like ciccumcision to girls,in Africa-Tanzania girls are not sent to school just because of mentality that there just waiting for married therefore only man can get educated,not only that...girls are not part of herritance when its comes to that. In Tanzania there is number of millions girls and women who are not educated because of those few reason I have mention above. Girls/women are commited and willing to change the world if they get proper education especial Africa to erase this dark continent theme.

Submitted by Apollo gabazira on

I lived in Tanzania for just over two years - I wonder if this problem of girl suppression is specific to certain religions or even geography!

Would it be worse in Zanzibar as compared to mainland Tanzania? Is the government and local civil society taking measures to address the problem?

I am a PhD student at UNESCO-IHE Institute for water education in the Netherlands.The saying "You Educate a girl you enlighten an entire family for generations"is true. I am a living beneficiary of such a case. I hail from a small village in the south of India.My grandmother had the privilege of schooling in the early 1900's and eventually became the first teacher in my village. As a result she was not only able to give a good education and guidance to my mother and her siblings but also to a number of her cousins and relatives who are in a good position in life. I owe my success, existence and well being to my mother and grandmother who always wanted me to continue studying and never give up. We should all join hands an help millions of Malala's that would benefit the generations to come.

Submitted by FELIX P. MUÑOZ MENDOZA on

Malala will help to innovate the education level in the third world countries. I´m sure she must be a paradigm for all young people in my country, Peru.

Submitted by Carolyn kinyua on

Girl power... Her advocacy is needed especially in Africa where the culture is still a drag on girls education....

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