Malala Yousafzai is an extraordinary girl. As a teenager, she has fought the Taliban and won, spoken at the United Nations, been interviewed by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, and is undoubtedly the most outspoken and youngest advocate on girls education worldwide.
Because of her determination never to give up speaking about this important issue the UN officially declared July 12, 2013 Malala Day. It was also the day of her 16th birthday, and the same day she gave her historic speech at the United Nations.
This year Malala Day is being celebrated on July 14 (but the actual day is still the 12th) and we are all invited to take part. We are all being asked to tweet, talk and hashtag our support for girls’ education.
The Malala Foundation just released a video about the campaign, reiterating some of this world-changer’s most important messages.
“This is a story of strength, ” she begins in the video. The hashtag to use is #strongerthan and we are all encouraged to declare what we are stronger than and what we have overcome. For Malala, aka pretty much the next Nelson Mandela or Gandhi, it was overcoming her fears and an extreme terrorist group for a noble cause.
Malala wants to urge every girl around the world that their education is something worth fighting for, because in many cases it is literally their ticket to freedom from oppression. Perhaps this is why terrorist groups like the Taliban and even Boko Haram, whose name literally means “against western education” are so scared of the potential of an educated girl.
But if they can use all their might and dangerous weapons to fight their ignoble cause, then why shouldn’t the rest of us use our means to equalize what they are doing? Malala has said that the most powerful weapon is a pencil, rather than a gun, which gives you a glimpse into her own knowledge and aspirations for what she hopes to achieve in her own life.
While it is awesome to see this teenage revolutionary creating such a stir, the truth is we aren’t that much different from her. In fact, most of us are probably far better equipped than a poor girl from rural Pakistan. We all have experiences in our lives we would much rather forget, that were utterly painful even to the point of death. But if we are still alive today, it means our work is not yet done, and we were given the strength to overcome for a purpose.
Therapists, counselors, religious teachers and spiritual gurus often state that we are allowed to go through difficult circumstance so that we can be a source of comfort to others. What Malala is doing is showing how a brief moment of pain can mean a lifetime of difference ofr others.
“Together we will show the world that our power is Stronger Than any campaign of fear.” says the Malala Foundation about the video. Oh and for the record, Malala advocates education for boys also, it’s just that we focus on the girls part because it is more common for them to be prohibited from being educated in certain parts of the world.
So on July 14, what will you declare to be stronger than?