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Facts About Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai is a well-known Pakistani activist campaigning for education rights, particularly for young girls. In light of her mission and her extraordinary achievements, here are 12 facts about Malala Yousafzai.

12 Facts About Malala Yousafzai

  1. Malala was born in the Swat District of Pakistan. This region fell under the rule of the Taliban, which is a fundamentalist terrorist group that imposes highly restrictive rules on women and girls. The Taliban banned girls from attending school or receiving an education of any kind.
  2. Her father was a teacher and ran a chain of schools throughout the local region. He continuously encouraged all of his children to learn despite the societal restrictions. Malala credits her father for inspiring her to pursue further education and humanitarian work.
  3. Malala blogged for BBC for several years. In 2008, BBC Urdu journalists began looking for a young student to share private insight on what life was like under the Taliban. Despite the danger of being caught, Malala’s father recommended her for the assignment and she began blogging in secret, anonymously chronicling her life and her perspective on the rule of the Taliban. She was 11 years old.
  4. Malala started to gain notoriety from standing up to the Taliban publicly. With her father’s blessing, she openly opposed the Taliban rules set in place and began working to regain access to education for both herself and other girls throughout the region.
  5. She was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011 due to her activism and was awarded Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize that same year. The Prime Minister of Pakistan later renamed the award the National Malala Peace Prize in her honor.
  6. The Taliban shot Malala in the head when she was 15 years old. Her newfound popularity and voice against the Taliban made Malala a high-profile target and in 2012 she was the victim of a nearly fatal assassination attempt. She was on the way home from school when a masked gunman asked for her by name and openly fired on her and her friends.
  7. She created the Malala Fund, a charity devoted to bringing equal education opportunities to girls around the world. Malala went to the United Kingdom for medical treatment directly after the shooter’s attack where she and her family settled permanently. Afterward, she established the Malala Fund with her father. Within its first year of operation, the Malala Fund raised over $7 million and opened up multiple schools in Malala’s native Pakistan.
  8. She celebrated her sixteenth birthday by giving a speech to the United Nations. Nine months after the assassination attempt, Malala spoke at invitation before world leaders and urged them to change certain policies in regard to education and women’s rights. Since then, Malala has held audience with notable political figures such as Queen Elizabeth and Former U.S. President Barack Obama and given lectures at Harvard University and the Oxford Union.
  9. July 12 has been officially designated Malala Day. After her critically acclaimed speech on her birthday at the United Nations, Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, urged all young people to speak out and let the world hear their voices. In an act of support, he declared Malala’s birthday Malala Day in honor of her courage and influential activism.
  10. She was a co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. After sharing her story, Malala catapulted to international fame and she received an outpouring of support from around the world as her story spread. In honor of her efforts, she became the youngest ever Nobel laureate at the age of 17.
  11. Malala received the United Nation’s highest honor. In 2017 she received the title of U.N. Messenger of Peace to promote girl’s education, a two-year appointment given to activists whose work has made an impact. The U.N. selects recipients carefully based on their future goals and past work, and the recipients engage closely with the United Nations’ leaders in an effort to make a change.
  12. Oxford University accepted Malala in 2017 where she began studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics. While pursuing her own studies, she currently still works with leaders and organizations around the globe on behalf of the Malala Fund and the United Nations, fighting for equal education for all.

While these 12 facts about Malala Yousafzai cannot encompass all of her achievements and work, they show that Malala’s bravery and perseverance have proven worthwhile in the face of adversity. Her goal to provide education to the world is a necessary step in ending global poverty.

“I raise my voice not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.” – Malala Yousafzai.

– Olivia Bendle
Photo: Flickr

Four Top Speeches on Girls' EducationOver the decades, feminist literature has played a pivotal role in addressing feminism, women’s rights and other related social issues concerning women and girls. Speeches, in particular, have proved to be a powerful vehicle for social justice and mobilization and are helping to promote gender equality and freedom for women globally. There are four top speeches that exemplify the ideals that women’s rights and the importance of girls’ education stand for.

Despite major headway, particularly in global poverty alleviation, there are still significant social and cultural barriers to education for girls around the world. Modern third-wave feminism and contemporary feminist jurisprudence itself continue to prioritize the elimination of gender-based discrimination in all facets along with its focus on intersectionality.

As girls’ education remains one of the most prevalent social issues of today, the following are some of the top speeches on girls’ education that prove to be inspiring and revolutionary not only in their content and scope but also their context and timelessness.

Four Top Speeches on Girls’ Education

  1. ‘What Educated Women Do’ by Indira Gandhi: This particular speech was rendered by former Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi before her death and it remains one of the most influential speeches on girls’ education, especially as it draws attention to the issues faced in South Asia. Not only does she use anecdotes and experiences from her own life to describe India’s tough social landscape but she also outlines the hardships and conditions for women and children in the country and the continued presence of outdated and oppressing social constructs in society. According to Gandhi, education is paramount to ensuring India’s continued growth and development in the future. Furthermore, she believed that educated women in India can boost the country’s image on the world stage as well.
  2. “Islam Forbids Injustice Against People, Nations and Women,” by Benazir Bhutto: The speech given by Pakistan’s former Prime Minister before her death is especially noteworthy for its radical opposition to politics and society in the country. Bhutto’s position in Pakistan’s political arena was largely dominated by her political activism to end discrimination and inequality. She singled out conservatism and patriarchy in society as being some of the primary causes of discrimination. Moreover, Bhutto’s unraveling of society was especially historic at that juncture as she called into question the religious misinterpretation of Islamic teachings and the propagation of obscurantism that contributes to it. She distinguished between social taboos and Islamic religious teachings to highlight the social injustices adversely impacting women in her country.
  3. ‘Let Girls Learn’ by Michelle Obama in London: Of all the empowering speeches Michelle Obama has given through her tenure as the former First Lady of the United States, a rather remarkable one remains her address on the occasion of her campaign for ‘Let Girls Learn,’ which is an organization that revitalizes the importance of girl’s education across the world. Established in 2015 by the Obamas in collaboration with USAID, Let Girls Learn aims to reach more than 62 million girls globally by increasing existing education programs and securing private-sector commitments. These initiatives will help increase access to education and crumble existing barriers. In her speech, she struck a chord as she passionately advocated for girls’ education as she addressed girls in a school in Mulberry, a borough that is known to be among London’s poorest. On this visit, Michelle Obama collaborated with the U.K. government and secured $200 million in funding to support girls’ education in conflict-ridden zones in countries like Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone.
  4. UN Address by Malala Yousafzai: Not only did this speech cement Malala Yousafzai’s influence globally but it also alerted the world to the deficiencies and lack of girl’s education in many countries. She drew from the context in Pakistan and her horrific experiences as a child. In her poignant speech, she spoke about practices like child labor, exploitation and other social injustices befalling women. She also emphasized the strong potential that female education could have on the world, particularly in crises like war, conflict and poverty. One of the most striking aspects of her speech is her direct address to world leaders as she urged international discourse on peace and security to center around the protection of women and girls and securing their rights. The last words of her speech, ‘Education first,’ still remain the key pillar for all her initiatives, particularly the work being undertaken by the Malala Foundation.

These four incredible women have been an inspiration to women and girls around the world. They have tirelessly fought for equality for women and an equal chance at education. These four women delivered the four top speeches on girls’ education.

– Shivani Ekkanath
Photo: Pixabay

Malala Visited Pakistan

The story of Malala Yousafzai’s survival is widely known around the globe. Recently, Malala visited Pakistan for the first time since 2012 when she was shot in the head by the Taliban.

Returning to Pakistan

In 2018, Malala returned to Pakistan and, under security protection, visited her home in the northwest town of Mingora. Back in 2012, Mingora was controlled by the Taliban under the rule of Mullah Fazlullah. At the age of 15, Malala was already vocal about female education, something that wasn’t supported under Taliban rule.

The Attack and Recovery

One day, Malala was traveling on a school bus with other students when it was stopped by men who were part of the Taliban. They boarded the bus, asking for Malala by name. When her friends turned to look at her, the trigger was pulled and she was shot in the head. 

Malala was rushed to the hospital, where her recovery was difficult. Within the first 72 hours of being shot, her brain swelled and she got an infection. She was transported to England to receive rehabilitative care at the Queen Elizabeth Medical Center, which specialized in emergency and rehabilitative care. Malala survived her attack after various surgeries but was left with some facial paralysis and deafness in her left ear.  

Continuing the Fight for Education

After recuperating, Malala continued her fight for the education of girls. She became the youngest Nobel laureate in 2014 when she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.” 

Malala has a foundation in her name, which is set up to support groups in Pakistan, Nigeria, Jordan, Syria and Kenya that support education. Apple has also partnered with Malala and the Malala Fund to help girls get an education.

According to 9 to 5 Mac, Apple will help the Malala Fund reach its goal of providing secondary education to more than 100,000 girls who would otherwise be unable to attend school.

Since the murder attempt in 2012, Malala has become the biggest advocate for girls education in Pakistan. She has become a beacon of hope. After Malala’s last visit to Pakistan, she hopes to return to live there after she finishes her studies in England.

– Valeria Flores

Photo: Flickr

Education for Girls in PakistanIn April 2018, a school will open that is focused on improving education for girls in Pakistan of all grades. Thanks to the Malala Fund and the Big Heart Foundation’s Girl’s Child Fund, this school will serve approximately 330 girls with the expectation to increase gradually to 1,000 students.

Farah Mohamed, CEO of the Malala Fund, and Mariam Al Hammadi, the Director of the Big Heart Foundation, signed an agreement regarding the school in Oxford, London. In attendance at the signing was Malala Yousafzai and Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, the Big Heart Foundation’s Humanitarian Envoy.

Financing for the School

The Big Heart Foundation donated $70,000 to the school and agreed to pay for the school’s operational needs such as medical, security expenses, transportation, uniforms, staff salary and books. The Big Heart Foundation plans to finance the school’s first two years with these funds. The school will be located in Swat Valley, which is the hometown of Malala Yousafzai, the founder of the Malala Fund.

Malala Yousafzai commented on the donation, saying, “I overwhelming thank the Big Heart Foundation for believing in my dream of a world where girls can choose their own future path. With their support, the Malala Fund can provide education for girls in my hometown, Swat Valley in Pakistan.”

Pakistan’s Education System

The creation of this school is a small but essential step in improving tragically low literacy and education levels in Pakistan’s lagging school system. As of 2015, there were about 3,309,514 young girls not enrolled in school. This does not include the other 2,902,032 adolescent women who were also not enrolled. In 2014, the illiterate population for women who were 15 and older was over 32,000,000.

Pakistan’s primary education school has been characterized as one of the most underdeveloped programs. Only 60 percent of its children complete their education through the fifth grade, while the others drop out for various reasons. Additionally, only 8 percent of Pakistan’s population has the qualifying grades to receive a tertiary education.

The Contributors

The Big Heart Foundation was created in May of 2015 by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bin Mohammed Al Qasimi. The organization’s goal is to provide needed humanitarian support from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Its primary aim is to help vulnerable families and children who live outside of the UAE, such as Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and others. It hopes to provide safe and secure environments to families and children in need, help increase the cooperation between local and regional government and help improve financial support.

The Malala Fund was founded in 2013 by Malala Yousafzai along with her father. This organization campaigns the idea that every girl has the right to 12 years of free and safe education. It believes that “girls are the best investment in future peace and prosperity of our world.”

Thanks to these two important organizations, in the near future, education for girls in Pakistan will finally be provided. Though education for girls in Pakistan is in dire need of improvement, this school is a vital, beneficial and necessary step.

– Cassidy Dyce

Photo: Flickr

State of Emergency for EducationEarlier this month, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai visited Nigeria and met with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to discuss the changes she envisions for Nigeria’s education system. Additionally, she has declared “a state of emergency for education in Nigeria.”

While Nigeria is one of Africa’s wealthier nations, it also has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world. In fact, 10.5 million Nigerian children are out of school, 60 percent of them girls, according to the United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF). Many of these children live in the country’s northeast region, particularly in the Boko Haram hub of Maiduguri, in which education has been under attack for the past nine years.

Boko Haram destroyed the classrooms and schools in the area. Most notably, the group is responsible for the abduction of more than 200 girls from their school in the remote town of Chibok in April 2014. This prompted international outrage and the #BringBackOurGirls movement, for which Malala herself campaigned online. Of the abducted girls, only 106 were released, rescued or escaped after more than three years in captivity. The other 113 are still in custody of the extremist group. As a long-time advocate for girls’ education, especially in war torn areas, Malala is the perfect spokesperson for the state of emergency for education in Nigeria.

In an op-ed in The Guardian, Malala detailed her visit to Maiduguri and the girls she met there “who have faced so much violence and fear in their young lives but are still determined to go to school.”

“Studies are clear,” she says in another interview, ”educating girls grows economies, reduces conflict, and improves public health.” The percentage of Nigeria’s budget for education decreased from 9 percent to 6 percent since her last visit to Nigeria in 2014. Meanwhile, the international benchmark for education spending is 20 percent of a country’s overall budget. In her meeting with President Osinbajo, she outlined several necessary key changes including declaring a “state of emergency for education” to focus attention on the education of Nigerian children.

She also suggested that Nigeria make school funding public and triple its education budget. She emphasized that the country should implement the Child Rights Act in all states. Her main goal is to raise awareness of unenrolled children in Nigeria and to highlight the fact that if Nigeria makes education a priority, it has the material means to make vast improvements.

Nigeria is in a state of emergency for education. Across West Africa, 46 percent of primary school-aged children out of school are Nigerian. Globally, one in five children not enrolled in school is Nigerian. During the Boko Haram insurgency which began in 2009, the group killed 2,295 teachers and destroyed almost 1,400 schools, displacing over 19,000 people.

Organizations such as UNICEF work closely with the Nigerian government to decrease these worrying statistics, especially in northeastern Nigeria. More than 525,000 children enrolled in school this year alone, while the country established over 37 temporary learning spaces. Relief organizations distributed about 92,000 packs of learning materials to help children continue their educations in areas especially vulnerable to attack.

Advocates like Malala are important in creating change because they put new international spotlights and pressure on governments to reprioritize education. Time will tell if the changes she envisions for schoolchildren in Nigeria come to pass. Continued advocacy work around this issue is important to ensure that a generation of schoolchildren does not fall behind.

Saru Duckworth

Photo: Flickr


Women in developing countries are one of the most vulnerable and oppressed groups in the world. But even in the face of challenges such as disproportionate violence, child marriages, teenage pregnancy and minimal education, many women are fighting back. The Borgen Project highlights five powerful women in poor countries who are asserting their power against fierce adversity.

  1. Malala Yousafzai
    This international icon has been an inspiration to girls everywhere since she survived a Taliban attack in 2012. The Pakistani teenager was targeted by the extremist group for her advocacy in support of girls’ education rights. Since her miraculous recovery, Yousafzai has continued her fight against gender inequality by founding the Malala Fund. This organization advocates for and invests in girls’ education in the poorest and most unequal countries in the world. At age 17, she became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Her story of resistance has made her one of the most powerful women in poor countries.
  2. Eqbal Dauqan
    This Yemeni scientist is breaking cultural barriers and scientific boundaries despite hardship and discrimination. Like Malala, she has been physically attacked for defiance of her culture’s strict gender roles. She was forced to flee to Malaysia from civil war in her native Yemen. In the face of these extreme obstacles, Dauqan has managed to become an awarded chemist. In a country where many women need a man’s permission to leave the house, Dauqan earned a college degree and a PhD in biochemistry. She has gone on to publish a popular book, earn international awards for her scientific contributions and be named assistant professor and head of her department at Al Saeed University. It is no wonder that NPR calls her “unstoppable.”
  3. Majd Al-Asharawy
    This Palestinian inventor created Green Cake, a revolutionary new building block made from ashes. In her war-torn home of Gaza, resources are limited and many buildings are in ruins. Al-Asharawy researched for six months to develop her special brick out of the resources available in Gaza. Green Cake is environmentally friendly and fire-resistant, weighs half what a concrete block does and costs half the price. This inspiring young inventor is yet another woman utilizing her limited resources to revolutionize the world around her.
  4. Ishita Sharma
    India is one of the most rapidly improving countries in the developing world, but gender equality in the country is not up to pace. Ninety-two women are raped in India every day. After being harassed by men on the street, Sharma teamed up with a kung fu coach to offer free self-defense classes to underprivileged girls. By working with parents and teachers in the girls’ communities, she has built up a small army of girls with the skills and confidence to defend themselves. Sharma is helping to equip more powerful women in poor countries to stand up to violence and sexual harassment.
  5. Drukpa Order “Kung Fu” Nuns
    In Southeast Asia, the human trafficking of young girls is rampant. Five hundred Buddhist nuns from India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet are fighting this practice through a 4,000-kilometer bike trip. For the fourth time, the nuns biked from Kathmandu to Leh, India to raise awareness of human trafficking and promote messages of gender equality. Along the way, they met with local officials, provided food to poor communities and helped marginalized people access medical care. They are even trained in martial arts to defend themselves against male harassment. These powerful women in poor countries are blazing a new trail for girls in Southeast Asia.

There is still a lot of work to be done by the international community and local governments to support gender equality in the developing world. But these powerful women in poor countries are proving that they are far from powerless.

Bret Anne Serbin

Photo: Flickr


Malala Yousafzai, the world’s youngest and most powerful champion for girls’ education, may soon be attending one of the most prestigious schools in the world: the University of Oxford. Back in March of this year, Yousafzai announced that she had received a conditional offer (based on her A Level grades) from Oxford and that she plans to attend the University. She plans to study philosophy, politics and economics (PPE), and work on her organization, the Malala Fund. To commemorate this outstanding individual, here are 12 facts about her life, her achievements and her organization.

  1. At the young age of 12, when her hometown of Swat was held by the Taliban in 2009, Yousafzai wrote for a BBC blog critiquing the hardline Islamic movement under a pseudonym, even while she and her father were receiving multiple death threats.
  2. Yousafzai was the first recipient of Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize.
  3. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a world-renowned social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop, nominated Malala Yousafzai for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011.
  4. Yousafzai was an international figure by now, and Taliban leaders voted among themselves to kill her. On October 9, 2012, Malala’s school bus was attacked by a gunman. He broke through the door and demanded to know where Yousafzai was. When some of the girls looked her way, she was shot in the head.
  5. Miraculously, the 15-year-old survived the attack. She was flown to Birmingham, U.K., for treatment. Her attack was condemned worldwide, and, after protests in Pakistan, more than 2 million people signed a right to education petition. The petition became a bill later ratified by the National Assembly, making it Pakistan’s first Right To Free and Compulsory Education Bill.
  6. In 2013, Yousafzai and her father co-founded the Malala Fund, an organization that advocates at all political levels to ensure all girls complete 12 years of school.
  7. The Malala Fund currently has programs in Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria and in various countries for Syrian refugees.
  8. In Pakistan, a country with the second-largest number of girls not in school, the program focuses on getting more girls in school, building schools, providing materials (books, uniforms, etc.) and grants for secondary schooling.
  9. In Kenya, a country quickly evolving into its digital era, the Malala Fund works to ensure girls can take advantage of the technology trend.
  10. In Nigeria, the organization helps girls who have escaped from Boko Haram get an education.
  11. For Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, the organization opens new schools and funds educational programs in safe refugee camps.
  12. In October 2014, Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize. At age 17, she is the award’s youngest recipient.

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As Yousafzai continues to push for girls’ education around the globe, we should follow in her footsteps and do what we can do alleviate global poverty and ensure global education.

James Hardison

Photo: Flickr

Malala Yousafzai is a brave Pakistani advocate for young women’s education and the youngest ever Nobel laureate. An attempt was made on her life when she was shot in the head by militants, and she has faced many other obstacles. Yousafzai is one among hundreds of advocates around the world fighting for women’s education. More than 63 million girls are still not enrolled in school, and fewer than 10 percent of teenage girls finish secondary school. Here are five more outstanding advocates for women’s education.

  1. Neelam Ibrar Chattan
    Chattan has advocated for peace for young women in Pakistan since she was a teenager. She grew up in the same town as Yousafzai. While Yousafzai was being attacked, and the Taliban were taking over Pakistan, Chattan launched a campaign called Peace for a New Generation, promoting education and extracurricular activities for girls and boys. Even though she and her family face various threats, she remains fearless in helping children and young adults get the education they need.
  2. Michelle Obama
    The former First Lady, along with her husband, former President Barack Obama, launched the Let Girls Learn organization in March 2015. The organization works with communities and leaders of third-world countries to promote girls’ education. She has also visited Africa and raised $27 million in funding for young women’s education in Liberia. Michelle Obama hopes that more people will continue fighting for young women’s education.
  3. Graca Machel
    Machel has fought not only for young women’s education, but also against childhood marriage. She acknowledged that women and children “pay the highest prices” from war in Nigeria. Her hard work has led to the Graca Machel Trust.
  4. Angelique Kidjo
    A Grammy-nominated West African singer and songwriter, Kidjo is also a UNICEF goodwill ambassador and the founder of the Batonga Foundation. She uses her talents as a singer and her passion for young women’s education to effect important change. She continues to work with the Batonga Foundation, supporting secondary and higher education for girls in Africa by improving school infrastructure, increasing enrollment, granting scholarships, providing financial support for families, and spreading community awareness.
  5. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
    As the first female president in an African country, Liberian President Sirleaf has been a huge supporter for general women’s rights, including women’s right to vote and women’s right to education. She has used her power to expand the quality of education in preschool and primary education by joining the Global Partnership for Education in 2007. Despite dealing with the Ebola crisis in 2015, she worked hard to reopen schools and provide quality education for all students.

In the face of widespread and systemic adversity, millions of women around the world do not have education as a birthright. These five advocates of women’s education are advancing an agenda of equality that will empower and uplift communities forever.

Emma Majewski

Photo: Flickr

Malala Yousafzai

In 2012, 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot three times by the Taliban because she was fighting for her right to attend school. Three years later, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner is creating a social movement through her activism regarding global education.

Now 18 years old, Yousafzai has called on the United States and other leading powers to devote more of their foreign policy to educational opportunities for needy children around the world.

“World leaders…are only focusing on six years of education, or nine years,” she said at a panel event co-hosted by Foreign Policy, Vital Voices, and the Malala Fund at the Carnegie Endowment in Washington. “This is not how we are going to achieve success in our future. It is necessary we provide 12 years of quality education to every child.”

Around the world, 57 million children of primary school age do not attend school, with half of these children living in sub-Saharan Africa. Out of these children, 54 percent who do not attend primary school are girls.

Yousafzai argues that leading world powers spend too much on their military forces and should promote, “Books, not bullets. Books, not bombs.”

According to the U.S. Department of Defense archives, $663 billion of the U.S. budget goes towards the military while a mere 0.1 percent is used for foreign aid, including global education.

As Yousafzai continues her global activism and promotion of the Malala Fund, the Nobel Peace Prize winner is finishing her high school education in England because she is afraid the Taliban will kill her if she tries returning to Pakistan.

While finishing school is her top priority, the activist also has a documentary being released on October 2. The documentary “He Named Me Malala” will follow Yousafzai’s life as she completes schoolwork, visits schoolgirls in Nigeria, and viewers will even have the opportunity to see the aftermath of the gunshot injuries as she undergoes surgery and physical therapy.

“I made a choice not to tell the global political story,” said film director Davis Guggenheim during the Q&A after the Telluride Film Festival screening. “As a father of two daughters, I wanted to tell the story of… why did this amazing girl happen?”

As the documentary’s release date to the public approaches, there are high hopes that the film will start a conversation and make a lasting impact on the current state of global education.

Alexandra Korman

Sources: BMZ, Fast Coexist, Foreign Policy, Los Angeles Times

Photo: Flickr

 

Malala-Poverty-is-Sexist-ONE-Campaignjpg
“We Can Do It!” Rosie the Riveter’s confident call to action and iconic pose continues to empower women. The ONE campaign, a poverty advocacy group, has adopted this traditional pose to fight for equality in a new way. Grinning girls bare their biceps appear across the site, using the hashtag #WithStrongGirls to demonstrate support for the women in poverty. Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai joins the ranks of women and girls posting these “strengthies” worldwide. The social media campaign works alongside a petition calling upon world leaders to prioritize the advancement of women in efforts to end global poverty.

As the campaign explains, “poverty is sexist.” ONE’s 2015 data report explains the significant disparity in quality of life based on gender, citing maternal morality, domestic violence, gaps in wages and education and poor representation in government. These are among the many disadvantages women, particularly women in poverty, face. Each day, 39,000 girls become child brides, 1 in every 217 childbirths leads to the mother’s death in least developed countries (LDCs) and 45 percent of worldwide maternal mortality occurs within the world’s poorest 13 percent of women living in LDCs. Life in extreme poverty is horrifying. For women, these horrors multiply.

While poverty affects women more severely than men, relief for women does not exclude men. Efforts in health and education will allow progress not only for women and girls, but also for the broader movement to end global poverty. As the report explains, educating the world’s poor, including often-excluded women, could reduce extreme poverty by 12 percent, and increasing efforts for the health of women and children “could yield a nine times return in economic and social benefits.” Introducing educated women to the workforce and reducing the current 10-30 percent wage gap in many poor nations can increase agricultural yield and create more consumers and participating members of society. According to ONE’s report, “Over the coming decade 1 billion women are poised to enter the global economy.” This kind of growth does not merely benefit women; the broader economy will see vast advancements.

These significant improvements are far from unattainable; ONE is not the only campaign to realize that the dialogue about extreme poverty needs to focus on women. The social media campaign and report anticipate a new set of Sustainable Development Goals to replace the Millennial Development Goals. The United Nations announced in March 2015 that women must be a focus of humanitarian efforts. The UN called for a focus on gender-based statistics, citing a need to better incorporate gender inequality into economic discussion.

The World Bank echoes this sentiment. A $65 million loan to Zambia’s Girls’ Educations and Women’s Empowerment and Livelihoods Project will aid 75,000 women and 14,000 adolescent girls in pursuing secondary education and gaining economic independence. It will also aid governmental systems to further these efforts. With fewer than 10 percent of poor rural girls in Africa currently finishing secondary school, such programs hope to improve both the quality of life of girls who otherwise would not have access to education, and also the broader infrastructures responsible.

By extending this issue from the realm of non-profits and governmental organizations to Facebook and Twitter, ONE is helping to catch the attention of people worldwide. Isolating issues of sexism in health and education is impossible; women in poverty must be a primary focus. Likewise, poverty is not a conversation exclusive to conference rooms and offices. Poverty is sexist, but merely by including women worldwide in the dialogue, progress towards equality and the end of global poverty is underway. By standing #WithStrongGirls, women (and men) can also help stand for those who do not yet have the opportunity to do so for themselves.

– Zoey Dorman

Sources: Poverty Is Sexist Report, ONE, World Bank, UN Women
Photo: Brit+Co