Malala Yousafzai, because she IS truly Beautiful.
As a young girl, Malala Yousafzai defied the Taliban in Pakistan and demanded that girls be allowed to receive an education. Because of her strong voice, at the age of 14, she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012, but survived and went on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize
Malala was born in Mingora, a town in the Swat District of north-west Pakistan. Her father named her after Malalai, a Pashtun heroine.
He ran a school, adjacent to the family’s home. He was known as an advocate for education in Pakistan and became an outspoken opponent of Taliban efforts to restrict education and stop girls from going to school. In 2009, the Taliban’s military hold on their city intensified. Television and music were banned, women were prevented from going shopping and then was told that his school had to close.
Malala shared her father’s passion for learning and loved going to school. She began writing a blog for the BBC Urdu service under a pseudonym, about fears that her school would be attacked and of the increasing military activity in her city.
Malala was featured in a documentary made for The New York Times, which revealed her identity as the author of the BBC blog.
The Taliban issued a death threat against her.
On October 9, 2012, on her way home from school, a man boarded the bus she was riding and shot Malala in the left side of her head; the bullet then traveled down her neck. Two other girls were also injured in the attack.
The shooting left Malala in critical condition, so she was flown to a military hospital in Peshawar and then transferred to Birmingham, England, for further care while in a medically induced coma.
In spite of the assault, after undergoing many intensive surgeries and paralysis to the left side of her face, Malala gave a speech at the United Nations on her 16th birthday, in 2013, where she said, “One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.”
She has also written an autobiography, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, which was released in October 2013.
The Taliban has continued to call Malala Yousafzai a target.
Despite the Taliban’s threats, Malala remains a staunch advocate for the power of education. On October 10, 2013, in acknowledgment of her work, the European Parliament awarded Malala Yousafzai the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
After two nominations, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2014, becoming the youngest person to have ever received this honor.
In congratulating Malala, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said: “She is (the) pride of Pakistan, she has made her countrymen proud. Her achievement is unparalleled and unequaled. Girls and boys of the world should take lead from her struggle and commitment.” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described her as “a brave and gentle advocate of peace who through the simple act of going to school became a global teacher.”
In her speech on October 2014, after receiving the Nobel Peace award, Malala said, “I tell my story, not because it is unique, but because it is not. It is the story of many girls.”
The young activist continues to take action on global education by opening a school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon. Its expenses covered by the Malala Fund, the school was designed to admit nearly 200 girls from the ages of 14 to 18.
Malala, you inspire us.
It is time we value ourselves, as women, because we are pivotal to the success of our society and the society of every culture and people across the world.
Facts and Figures:
- Increasing women and girls’ education contributes to higher economic growth.
- Women’s economic equality is good for business. Companies greatly benefit from increasing leadership opportunities for women, which is shown to increase organizational effectiveness. It is estimated that companies with three or more women in senior management functions score higher in all dimensions of organizational effectiveness.
- When more women work, economies grow. An increase in female labor force participation—or a reduction in the gap between women’s and men’s labor force participation—results in faster economic growth.
- Evidence from a range of countries shows that increasing the share of household income controlled by women, either through their own earnings or cash transfers, changes spending in ways that benefit children
“Educating girls and empowering women to enter the labor market or run businesses — even on a small scale — makes a huge difference in a community’s economy. Empowered women may help lower poverty rates and diminish support for terrorism,” said Nicholas D. Kristof to the Harvard Medical School.
The truth is, women hold greater value than the world has yet to recognize.
In her is creative ability, the nature to care and nurture, the instinct to think beyond… Because inside each woman, is the ability to create life. We alone hold the capability to cultivate a life in our own body, to be a mother. No man will ever know this, nor will he ever be given the right that God alone gave to, and only to woman.
It is because of this gift that women are different. It is because of this gift, we are needed.
“Women are more likely to invest money or assets in their children or small business, and men are more likely to spend on instant gratification…” continued Nicholas D. Kristof to the Harvard Medical School.
From childhood to old age, women have that maternal nature. It is who we are. Life growing within is our power, and motherhood, compassion, and that nature to care and defend our children at any cost is our very being.
Yet this isn’t our limitation, but is what gives us a greater voice, a stronger influence. Our perspective is broader, our vision is not about ourselves. Our place in the classroom, the marketplace, and in the public square is imperative. Because we hold the key to a successful society… and when we are held back, that very society becomes barren.
Let us today see ourselves as the blessing we are, and more importantly, let us stand up for women in our city, our country, and our world.
What an honor it is to be a “woman”. Every girl, every woman, young and old, deserves that honor. Let us call her worthy, love her, cherish her and raise her.
Let us silence in our hearts and with our voices those who limit, but declare our worth and declare her worth.
It is those chains that have held us back, the shackles that have for centuries diminished our value, and have hurt the land and its people. It’s time to bring her forth and say, she is worthy.
I look at this amazing young girl, Malala, and say thank you for your courage, your resilience and today, with and because of the very scars you carry, I call you, we call you, BEAUTIFUL.
-written by Andrea Casteel Smith, author of Scarred Beautiful