Malala Yousafzai (Pakistan)

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Malala is another one of my heroines.

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I’m glad to see so many strong women appearing in places where there is little hope for them to be heard. I feel that it means enough voices are starting to make a difference. The fact that they are risking their lives to go against their own culture and bring attention to what’s happening shows such courage. Malala is a young woman from Swat, Pakistan who is devoted to helping children around the world attain an education. Malala has gone through so much in her 15 years and she deserves to be praised for her work to better the world.

At age 11 in 2009, she secretly sent her diary to BBC so they could report on the injustices of living under Taliban rule, her main focus being the ban on education for girls. In 2010, a documentary was made of her life in Swat and she became better known for her efforts to protect education for girls in Pakistan. She became a chairperson of the District Child Assembly of Swat and was nominated for an International Children’s Peace Prize, the Nobel Peace Prize and won the National Youth Peace Prize.

In October of 2012, on her way home on the school bus, she was shot in the head and neck by Taliban gunmen, a horrible assassination attempt. She spent a few days unconscious in critical condition and was sent for medical attention in the UK. After failing to kill Malala, the Taliban swore they would be back to kill her and her father who is a school owner and educational activist himself. As of this March, Malala has started attending school in the UK.

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Malala not only gives hope to other girls living under the Taliban in Pakistan but reminds all of us who have had access to education that we shouldn’t take it for granted. While we should all be granted the freedom to learn and grow, there are millions of children denied this right every day. You may not feel that you have a way to change this but maybe just being informed about what’s happening will someday make a change. A book about Malala’s life will be published this October and I look forward to telling you all about it when it comes out.

More about her story and the diary she gave to BBC on this blog. The documentary by NYTimes can be seen below:

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