Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist who in 2012 survived gunshots during a Taliban assassination attempt, met with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to urge him to meet with the parents of recently kidnapped schoolgirls.

Since the age of 11, Malala has advocated for girls’ education, which led to the Taliban issuing a death threat against her. When they tried to assassinate her in 2012 — when she was just 15 years old — they failed.

As a result, Malala dedicated her life to activism, spreading a message on the importance of education and urging political leaders to help young women in need.

Malala therefore felt deeply concerned about the 276 girls abducted from a secondary school by Boko Haram in Chibok, a region of northeast Nigeria. The girls were abducted on April 14, and 219 of them are still missing.

In a recent video, Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, announced that he would only release the girls if the Nigerian government released imprisoned Boko Haram fighters. In the video, Shekau also greeted Al Qaeda and other prominent terrorist leaders across the Middle East, and denounced democracy and all forms of Western education.

He ended the video by firing an AK-47 rifle into the air in a show of violence.

“Nigerians are saying ‘bring back our girls’ and we are telling [President Jonathan] to bring back our arrested warriors, our army,” Shekau said.

Malala spent July 14, a date designated international “Malala Day” by the United Nations, visiting with the Nigerian President, urging him to do everything in his power to free the girls captured by the Boko Haram militant group.

“As we celebrate Malala Day on July 14, I have both hope and heartbreak,” Malala said. “I did not think that, just one year after my U.N. speech, more than 200 girls would be kidnapped in Nigeria by Boko Haram simply for wanting to go to school. These girls are my sisters.”

During Malala’s meeting, President Jonathan agreed to meet with the parents of the abducted schoolgirls. He also promised scholarships to all of them once they were released.

“The president has expressed his solidarity with those girls and his sadness,” Malala said. “He has assured that these girls will come back home safely.”

She went on to say that the president is currently considering the safest option to bring them home.

Malala cited over 66 million girls lacking access to education worldwide. She blames the lack of education on the large numbers of child brides in her home country of Pakistan. She feels that if young women are allowed to go to school and given more opportunities, they will not so readily relinquish their youth and freedom.

“I know education is what separates a girl who is trapped in a cycle of poverty, fear, and violence from one with a chance at a better future,” Malala said.

In recent weeks, Nigerian officials have hinted at progress in planning a rescue mission for the captured girls. But, according to a recent statement released by President Jonathan, the Nigerian government refuses to make any negotiations with Boko Haram.

Some feel this may be a dangerous tactic, since Shekau has openly taken credit for at least two recent bombings of Nigerian cities.

No matter what the Nigerian government plans to do, Malala has hope that everything will work out for the captive girls.

“We raise our voices so that those without a voice can be heard. We pledge not to forget the voiceless. Not to get tired of calling for the creation of a world that we want to live in,” Malala wrote. “Not to lose hope, and not to stop caring.”

Paige Fraizer

Sources:, LA Times, Liberty Voice, The International News, Washington Post
Photo: CCTV

Malala Yousafzai has become one of the world’s most prominent advocates for children’s education, following an assassination attempt against her from the Taliban. This young girl, who almost died standing up for her right to learn, who lived to tell the tale of being shot in the head for simply going to school, has become a symbol for the dignity of an education.

At least three million children have been displaced as a result of the current conflict in Syria, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates. On average, these children are likely to spend 10 years in refugee camps or in temporary shelters. The right to receive an education or to be educated upon reaching adulthood and to experience childhood with dignity and hope for the future cannot wait.

Malala is making efforts to ensure that the masses of Syrian children are afforded these basic rights. On February 18, the 16-year-old girl visited the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan in an effort to raise money for children’s education in the camp.

“When I think of these children, I can feel what they would be feeling now and what they are suffering through. So that’s why I think that it’s a responsibility to protect these children,” Malala said.

Currently, 50,000 students are educated in only three schools. Despite the tremendous difficulties facing refugee camps, such as food, shelter and adequate hygiene, Malala expresses the importance of education for young children coming from violent circumstances. Whereas aggression and brutality can negatively influence a child’s behavior, education and school environments help teach children to work in groups and solve problems in a healthy manner.

In Lebanon, some schools are going on double shift in efforts to equip Syrian refugee children with a proper education. The double shifts allow more lessons for more students without requiring any new facilities. Within weeks, these institutions have shown results that children have started to recover from their traumatic experiences.

Malala Yousafzai has taught the world that an education is something worth fighting for. Home or no home, all children deserve to learn.

– Jaclyn Stutz

Sources: CNN, New York Daily News, NPR
Photo: Should-Know

Forbes released its 2014 list of “30 Under 30 who are Changing the World,” which recognizes 30 notable young people in 15 different categories such as education, finance, science and Hollywood who are making a big impact in their chosen field.

Forbes recognized 30 inspiring people in the Social Entrepreneur category who are working in various fields such as girls’ education, rural agricultural development, mobile phone access in remote locations and the creation of online giving platforms.

Those honored were a part of a pool of nominated people who were then selected by philanthropist and former-eBay president Jeff Skoll, Cheryl Dorsey of Echoing Green — which funds social entrepreneurs — and Randall Lane, Editor-in-Chief of Forbes.

Some notable entries in Forbes’ Inspiring 30 Under 30: Social Entrepreneurs include the following people.

Malala Yousafzai, 16, and Shiza Saheed, 24, joined forces in 2012 after Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban in retribution for her vocal stance on the importance of girls’ education. Saheed became Malala’s “chief strategist” for how Malala’s courage and activism could be utilized on a broad scale to create lasting global change.

They cofounded the Malala Fund, have raised $400,000 in grants from the World Bank and from Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, and have become a powerful symbol of the movement for girls’ education and female empowerment around the world.

Kennedy Odede, 29, grew up in the Kenyan slum of Kibera where he was called to action by the community’s desperate conditions, especially for women and girls. He founded the organization Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO), which runs the tuition-free Kibera School for Girls, a health clinic, community center, clean water initiatives and revenue-generating activities for adults in the community.

SHOFCO’s overarching idea is that if community development can be visibly linked to gender equity initiatives, people will support the empowerment of girls.

Odede and SHOFCO have been recognized by the Clinton Global Initiative and the Newman’s Own Foundation and will be featured in a forthcoming women’s rights documentary by New York Times contributor Nicholas Kristof.

Esra’a Al Shafei, 27, is the founder of Mideast Youth, which promotes social justice, political dissent, and open journalism in the Middle East and North Africa. Further, the organization runs online platforms for activist musicians ( and for young members of the LGBT community in the region.

Bryan Baum, 24, is the co-founder of Prizeo, which raffles various experiences with A-listers such as Justin Bieber, One Direction, Muhammad Ali and Alicia Keys in order to benefit non-profit organizations. Prizeo has to-date raised $3 million for charities, including St. Jude, Typhoon Haiyan Relief and Invisible children.

Talia Leman, 18, was only ten years old when she raised $10 million for Hurricane Katrina relief. Since then she has created RandomKid, which facilitates the efforts of young people who want to make an impact on the world.

Ten cents of every fundraised dollar on the site goes into a general pool for future efforts. The site has engaged projects from over 12 million young people from 20 countries.

– Kaylie Cordingley

Sources: Prizeo, Forbes, Shining Hope for Communities, RandomKid, Malala Fund
Photo: NWHM

With a comprehension of human nature typically not seen in someone of only 16 years of age, Malala Yousafzai explained the motivation for literally risking her life for everyone’s right to education by saying: “We are human beings…we don’t learn the importance of anything until it’s snatched from our hands.”

In an interview with Jon Stewart of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, well-known educational activist Malala Yousafzai once again stunned the world through the embodiment of such pure compassion and altruism that left her usually quick-witted host speechless.

She described her home of Swat Valley, located in Pakistan, as a peaceful paradise of natural beauty with flowing rivers and lush green hills. It was not until 2007 that the Taliban in her hometown had begun attacking schools and anyone they deemed anti-Taliban. Malala recounted how she realized how crucial education was after recognizing the Taliban feared the power of an educated woman.

The empowerment and liberation these young girls felt in school was too great for their community to surrender to the Taliban. Schools went underground, removed school signs and tried to continue educating children even under the possibility of being attacked by the Taliban.

When asked what motivated her to stand up for education, she spoke of the inspiration her father gave her who was also an activist for women’s rights and education. His example gave her the courage to take the fight for her rights into her own hands rather than wait for the government to intervene.

By raising her voice on multiple platforms from her blog with BBC Urdu, to appearing on media channels, Malala generated enough awareness of Swat Valley’s situation and advocacy for women’s education, that the Taliban labeled this 14-year-old girl as a threat. She explained that the Taliban attempted to rule Swat Valley through fear and the misuse of Islam. Malala refused to back down and instead used her intelligence to articulate her experience and subvert the Taliban’s tyranny, but in turn risked her life.

After a friend told her that the Taliban were targeting her, she described what she planned to do if a member of the Taliban was about to kill her. With her steel resolve, she stated to Jon Stewart and everyone around the world watching that she would never retaliate against the Taliban, because doing so would make her no different than a terrorist.

Dialogue and compassion would be her weapons of choice, and she would tell the Taliban she fights not for her education, but for the education of all – including the Taliban’s children. Such blunt advocacy for peace and pacifism momentarily left Jon Stewart in silence until he comically asked if Malala’s father would be mad if he adopted her.

Other great leaders in history have came to similar conclusions when faced with the idea of violent suppression. Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, and now Malala Yousafzai have displayed a similar capacity for compassion and peace that great change often necessitates.

It requires a certain level of vision and passion to make people gravitate towards the leaders of grand social movements and it is evident in the actions and resolve of Malala Yousafzai that she poses such qualities. It is now up to the people across the world to pick up their pens and raise their voices as Malala has done and join the fight for equality she has risked her life for.

Jacob Ruiz

Sources: The Daily Show, USA Today
Photo: Jezebel



Malala Yousafzai Facts


Malala Yousafzai was interviewed on The Daily Show with John Stewart. Malala become a public figure after being shot by the Taliban.