Malala Celebrates 18th Birthday Opening A School, Promoting ‘Books Not Bullets’ Campaign


Education activist and the world’s youngest Nobel prize laureate Malala Yousafzai has just celebrated her 18th birthday in the best way possibly, and no it didn’t involve alcohol or partying. However, what she DID do is definitely cause for a celebration.

Ever the activist, she opened a school for Syrian refugee girls in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, one of the countries where an estimated 1.2 million refugees (out of 4 million in total) are fleeing. The Syrian civil war which started in 2011 during the Arab Spring has been labelled the “worst humanitarian disaster of our time” because of the large number of everyday civilians it has affected – 11 million people in total are displaced and neighboring countries Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey where the majority of refugees are fleeing cannot cope with the increasing numbers each year.

Angelina Jolie has urged the United Nations and other governments to stop ignoring the plight of these people and act now to prevent further dire consequences.

There are many hands that need to be involved to better this great crisis, and Malala is just one young woman doing her part to change the lives of the unfortunate.

“I decided to be in Lebanon because I believe that the voices of the Syrian refugees need to be heard and they have been ignored for so long,” Malala told Reuters in a statement about opening the girls’ school on her birthday.


Her non-profit organization, the Malala Fund, paid for the school which can accommodate up to 200 girls aged between 14-18.

“Today on my first day as an adult, on behalf of the world’s children, I demand of leaders we must invest in books instead of bullets,” she said in a speech.

There are about 500,000 Syrian school-age children in Lebanon, but only a fifth are in formal education says a report. While Malala’s new school is a bit of good news for a small number of girls in the midst of a crisis, she says the problem is far from over.

“In Lebanon as well as in Jordan, an increasing number of refugees are being turned back at the border. This is inhuman and this is shameful.”

Her father Ziauddin, who has been a champion of girls education since before Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban at age 14, also sees the significance of Malala’s actions now that she is officially an adult.


“This is the mission we have taken for the last 8-9 years. A small moment for the education of girls in Swat Valley: it is spreading now all over the world,” he said.

Before opening the girls school, Malala made an appearance at the Oslo Summit on Education For Development in Oslo, Norway (the same place where she received her Nobel Prize) speaking on the economic viability of education and why it should be a priority for governments.

The Malala Fund estimates that if you took a bit of funding away from military, you would be able to fund education systems exponentially. According to their calculations, a mere 8 days of Military funding could help provide costs toward free education for 12 years.

“It may appear as a huge number but the reality is it is not much at all. In fact, and unfortunately, $39 billion is spent on (the) military in only eight days,” she said in her speech.


This research has become the impetus has become the basis for her #BooksNotBullets campaign where she is encouraging social media users to put the pressure on world leaders by adopting the hashtag and uploading an image or a post saying why they believe education needs to have more emphasis from governments.

“Globally, 31 million children do not receive a primary education and another 62 million miss out on a secondary education. Most problematic, girls are disproportionately affected,” says Global Citizen in regard to the campaign.

“The benefits of school go beyond critical thinking skills and providing employment opportunities. Students learn knowledge ranging from maternal health to living sustainably. Curb investments in military drones, guns and cyber warfare. Instead, invest in the future of children,” they added.

While we eagerly wait to see which country will be the first to take on Malala’s mandate by cutting 8 days of military funding, we are once again in awe of and inspired by her desire to lead by example and continue to fight for the right of every girl around the world to have an education.

Take a look at her speech at the Oslo Summit below:



  1. Pingback: Meet Bangladesh's 1st Female Surfer Who Escaped A Life Of Prostitution In Favor Of Breaking Taboos

  2. Pingback: We Love Model Shaun Ross' "In My Skin I Win" Body Positive Movement! - GirlTalkHQ

  3. Pingback: Inside Edopia: How A Progressive School Structure Fosters Education In Young Women - GirlTalkHQ

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.