Precisely six years ago, a sixteen-year-old Pakistani girl had stepped on the podium of United Nations and delivered an impassioned speech on the need for gender equality in education. Malala Yousafzai is known worldwide for her contribution to gender equality and women empowerment. She is also recognised for her historical past regarding the attack by Taliban where she was shot in the head and neck while returning from her morning class in Swat Valley by a bus. Despite the remorseless attack, Malala didn’t let the Taliban crush her bravery. In October 2013, she delivered her speech in UN and inspired millions to work towards women’s right to education.

Malala believed, ‘If one man can destroy everything, why can’t one girl change everything?’ Instead of seeking revenge on Taliban she said she wanted education for the sons and daughters of Taliban. She became fiercer than ever having faced death, which is why she believes that nothing worse could happen to her in her second chance at life. She encouraged herself not to be afraid and move forward. She also came up with the ‘Malala fund’ which is a non-profit organisation that helps young girls go to school and receive education. Her contribution doesn’t end here. She also co-authored her book- ‘I am Malala’ which became an international best-seller. Quiet modestly, she wishes that the world remembers her as the “girl who fought for education” and not “the girl who got shot by the Taliban.” She is keen on dedicating her life to this cause and urges action against poverty, illiteracy and terrorism. In her book, she states, “With guns you can kill terrorists, with education you can kill terrorism.”

Today, on 12th July Malala turns 21 years old. Soon after her speech, on 12th July 2013, UN names a day after her – Malala Day. The importance of educating a girl child should be recognised by the masses, and they should always be motivated to go to school. Education is a basic right of the person, and nothing should stop them from achieving it. Education is the coin you flip to define your future. On having a day named after Malala, Mr. Ban Ki-moon (Secretary-General of the United Nations) said, “No child should have to die for going to school. Nowhere should teachers fear to teach or children fear to learn. Together, we can change the picture.”

While at the age of 11 every child tries to avoid school, Malala has strived for her education. Apart from having a day named after her, Malala has been the recipient of endless honourable awards and prizes. She was awarded by the first National Youth Peace Prize by the Pakistan government in 2012. In 2014, at the age of 17, Malala became the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

It’s 2018, and yet the world suffers from a high level of illiteracy. According to UNESCO, in the world today there are about 1 billion non-literate adults. 98 per cent of all non-literates live in developing countries. Malala said, “Life isn’t just about taking in oxygen and giving out carbon dioxide.” We need to realise the importance of life and whether we choose to define it with poverty and illiteracy or with education and progress. The essence of Malala’s message must live on in every child.

 

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