BORN: July 12, 1997
In 2009, a 7th grade Pakistani schoolgirl named Malala began a diary about life under the Taliban’s growing influence in the region where she lived. She wrote about the affect of the education ban on girls.
Extracts of her diary were first published by the BBC in 2009. There were 35 total. In 2012, while on the school bus, she was shot in the head by militants for speaking out about a girls right to an education.
"I had 2 choices, be silent and get killed, or speak up and be killed, I chose the second option. I don't want to be remembered as the girl who was shot. I want to be remembered as the girl who stood up."
Rather than silencing her, the brutal attack has served to amplify her voice to promote the right of every child up to 12 years of age to free, safe, quality education.
'Why is it, that giving guns is so easy, but giving books is so hard?"
The media handed a megaphone to a young girl who wanted more from her country. This brave young girl was inspired by her father who valued his daughters right to an education, in a society that does not prioritize the rights of girls and women.
"I tell my story, not because its unique, but because its not, it is the story of many girls."
130 million children, mostly girls, are denied schooling.
"If one girl can change the world, what can 130 million girls do?”
Malala was named to TIME Magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2013, 2014 and 2015.In 2014 she became the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
The 2015 David Guggenheim movie, He Named Me Malala,
charts her path to the prize. The movie illustrates with a sharp underlying message that no matter who you are, or what your circumstances are, you can make a difference.
"One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world."
In July of 2016, Malala’s public speaking tour came to Minneapolis and T was in the audience to hear her speak about her life’s campaign, to bring education to girls.
"I raise up my voice-not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard...we cannot succeed when half of us are held back."
At times during her 40 minute speech, she seemed much older than her years. She made forceful and confident statements of what she knew would improve our world’s future...to invest in girls.
"And I just sometimes wonder, why have our world leaders have ignored it for so long? The thing that I have realized from my experience in 19 years, they have not learnt yet in their 60+ years is that an investment in education can change the whole world."
But then her youth would brighten the auditorium as she confessed she was annoyed by her little brother and also that she wished school started a bit later in the day.
Malala spoke with compassion and honesty. She told us there were many other girls who also wanted to speak out, but their brothers and fathers did not allow it.
"We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced."
She made an impassioned plea to the men in the audience, that their role is crucial and they must not try to stop women and girls from speaking out. She talked about the things that education would change-early child marriages, child labor, exploitation and abuse. Her experience of living under Taliban rule gave her these insights.
"Extremists have shown what frightens them most. A girl with a book."
And she was not shy about telling us what we should do.
"The best way to fight terrorism is to invest in education. Instead of sending us weapons, send us teachers. With guns you can kill terrorists, with education you can kill terrorism."
If an Extraordinary Girl from a remote village can become a cosmic force for change, we all can.