“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.” – Malala Yousafzai

     As a young girl, Malala Yousafzai defied the Taliban in Pakistan and demanded that girls be allowed to receive the right to education. She was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012, but survived and went on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and become an inspiration to many people around the globe to join hands and come together to work towards eradicating a major social evil present in the society.

       Born on July 12, 1997, Malala became an advocate for girls’ education when she was still a child, which resulted in the Taliban issuing a death threat against her. On October 9, 2012, a gunman shot Malala when she was traveling home from school. She survived and has continued to speak out on the importance of education to girls. In 2013, she gave a speech at the United Nations and published her first book, I Am Malala, which went on to become an international bestsellerIn 2014, she won the Nobel Peace Prize.

       Following the terrorist attack, Malala gave a speech at the United Nations where she said, “the terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear, and hopelessness died. Strength, power, and courage were born.”

      Her fight for rights to basic education for girls grew into more than just a social issue; it became an international revolution, which gave strength to numerous people all over the globe to stand up and voice out for their rights, in the face of terror and other adverse evils that persist within the society.

As individuals, we can learn a lot from Malala’s journey and her fight for basic human rights.

  1. Perseverance – Despite being shot in the head by the Taliban, Malala never deterred from her path and continued to fight for justice as she believed it to be her right to attain education.
  2. Commitment – Her commitment towards her dream kept her moving towards achieving it, despite facing numerous hardships along the way.
  3. Discipline – Despite being a girl child from a patriarchal society who faces a lot of adversity, she never went out of her way to resort to any uncouth means to strive towards her goal.
  4. Courage – To stand in the face of adversity and hostility and fight for change requires a great deal of courage. Malala has displayed this all throughout her fight for right to basic education.

Malala is currently enrolled at the University of Oxford, where she is studying philosophy, politics, and economics. She balances her school work and social life with leading the fight for girls’ education around the world — but she is not fighting alone. Her journey has been quite tragic and painful, but it has been memorable only because Malala decided to keep it that way. We can all learn a thing or two from this young social activist and her dream of seeing a world where girl children are given the opportunity to study freely, without having to face opposition from any side or party. “Let us pick up our books and our pens,” she said. “They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.”