All Children“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world,” Malala Yousafzai stated at the U.N. Youth Assembly, where she launched her international campaign to fight for the equality of all children.

Education is the art of unfolding and absorbing hidden knowledge. As a student matures, the pupil gains the ability to think for themselves, as well as the ability to differentiate fact from fiction. Absorbing the world like a sponge in order to gain knowledge not only enlightens the student, but molds them to better all of mankind.

In 2014, the Nobel Peace Prize focused on empowerment through education. Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai shared this international honor “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”.

Malala and Kailash dedicated their lives to the betterment of those around them, believing education is the means to lasting peace. Education can be obtained or earned, but cannot be stripped from the person.

Both Nobel Peace Prize recipients defied all odds in order to utilize their experience to touch millions of lives and fight for all children.

Malala was born in Pakistan during a time of chaos and violence. In 2012, she was shot by the Taliban, causing severe injuries and a long recovery. Throughout Pakistan, the Taliban often attacked young girls at school in order to discourage females from receiving an education.

This traumatic incident did not deter Malala from continuing her education, but instead encouraged her to pursue an international campaign from London. Threats from the Taliban poured into her mailbox and inbox as she pursued her recovery as well as her campaign for the universal right to education.

Her platform includes her published book, multiple speeches to the UN, meeting heads of state and traveling to various universities. She has quickly become the face of female empowerment through education and the fight for the education of all children.

In India, Kailash worked as a teacher until 1980, when he became inspired to do more for those most vulnerable. He founded the organization Bachpan Bachao Andolan, which frees thousands of children from exploitation each year. In order to protect their newfound freedom, all children go to school and get an education, the ultimate key to lasting freedom.

Throughout the United States and Europe, education can seem like a chore for some families. To those living in poverty around the world, putting on the school uniform is the embodiment of dignity and pride. Entering the classroom is the first step in breaking the cycle of poverty and domestic abuse, as well as providing hope to dreams.

Danielle Preskitt

Photo: Flickr

Improving Women's EducationIn January 2014, former U.S. President Barack Obama stated, “You can judge a nation, and how successful it will be, based on how it treats its women and its girls.” Indeed, educating women throughout the world has proven a pivotal locus for ensuring communities’ and countries’ social and economic success. In order to highlight some of the tremendous growth that women and girls’ education generates, here are 10 facts about improving women’s education.

  1. Emphasizing the need for ensuring the continual empowerment of women worldwide, the United Nations made equal access to education for girls a central focus of its Millennium Development Goals. The U.N. has made the elimination of gender disparities in primary and secondary education its third goal. Furthermore, it sought to reconcile the injustice that limited women’s opportunities for both education and, by extension, employment. Since the completion of the Millennium Development Goals, women have constituted 41 percent of paid workers in fields outside of agriculture. This is a tremendous increase from the 1990 rate of 35 percent.
  2. Educated women are likely to marry at later ages and consequently have fewer children. In fact, by simply providing girls with an extra year of schooling, nations can reduce a woman’s fertility rate by 5 to 10 percent. Limiting the number of individuals present will ensure improved accessibility to resources and better opportunities for all people, particularly in countries struggling with overpopulation, such as Nigeria and China.
  3. Girls who stay in school longer lower their probability of contracting HIV, thereby adding securing their health and wellbeing. In fact, the Girls Global Education Fund has reported that in Africa, children born to mothers who have not received education have a one in five chance of dying before age 5.
  4. Improving women’s education promotes continued education for whole families. In sending women to school, they are likely to encourage their children’s educations. This chain reaction illustrates the ways in which educating a girl improves an entire nation’s access to education.
  5. For each additional year that a girl spends in primary school, her wages increase by up to 20 percent. By continuing with her education through secondary school, her wages increase by 25 percent. Improving education for girls therefore ensures their socioeconomic stability and successes worldwide.
  6. By providing women and girls access to education, the probability of their involvement in the political process increases. Through education, women are more likely to participate in civic engagement and decision-making. Consequently, this promotes a more representative government. In fact, the average proportion of women in parliaments across the world has doubled over the past 20 years. This is a direct result of the success of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals in reducing the gender disparity in primary and secondary school education.
  7. In recent years, young women accounted for 59 percent of the total illiterate population. By providing women and girls with an education, illiteracy rates worldwide will inevitably increase, suggesting the overarching trend of global educational success.
  8. Educational depravation for women and girls has proven costly for the global economy. By refusing to give women and girls education, individual economies suffer as much as a $1 billion loss in revenue. Throughout the world, this constitutes a $92 billion loss each year. This suggests that investing in women’s education is a lucrative decision for all nations to make.
  9. Girls’ education has a tremendous impact on the environment. According to the Brookings Institution, secondary educational opportunities for women remain the most cost-effective investment against climate change.
  10. When girls are educated, communities maintain their stability at higher rates and can recover faster from conflict. By providing women and girls with secondary educational opportunities, nations also reduce their risk of war substantially and secure limitations on terrorism and extremism.

Ultimately, girls’ education holds significant implications for the global community. By improving women’s education, the world thrives both socially and economically. It is critical for nations to invest in women’s education in order to guarantee both individual and global success.

Emily Chazen

Photo: Flickr

In many developing countries, like Pakistan, education for girls is not a primary objective. The schools in these countries are often of poor quality. Consequently, many girls drop out during their elementary level school years, to help support their families.

When attending school does not necessarily guarantee learning, parents would rather have their children—especially girls—stay home to help the family.

The quality of Pakistan’s education stems from the country’s poverty.  Currently, measures are being taken in Pakistan to promote higher quality education that is accessible .

Khadim Hussain, an Echidna Global Scholar, founded Grace Association and has been working to develop Community School Networks (CSN). Over the last two years, the organization has been working to train local leaders to make a difference and improve the quality of education throughout the country for girls. The organization focuses on the importance of “the family, community, and the economy in the education of youth, and the core values of social justice, equity, and democracy in the design and implementation of educational programs.”

While Hussain tackles the issue of the quality education, Malala Yousafszai works to change social ideologies regarding women and the right to an education. Malala,  who fought for improved education and subsequently suffered a Taliban attack in October 2012 with two other friends for her culturally extreme ideas of equal education for girls in Pakistan, acts as a symbol of bravery and wisdom for the movement. On Dec. 10, 2014,  she was honored as the youngest to ever receive a Nobel Peace Prize for her courageous actions and words.

With the help of Malala and Hussain, education for girls in Pakistan is improving. Malala will continue to fight for what she believes to expand the opportunities for girls across the country. The friends of Malala continue to fight as well, saying “when you are educated, you are able to do everything. If you are not educated, you can’t do anything.”

– Erin Coughlin

Sources: Brookings, Education Innovations, WKYT
Photo: Flickr

The world has halved extreme poverty rates and almost halved preventable child deaths since 1990. Numbers of those dying of AIDS have been nearly halved as well, and about 10 million are now on life saving anti-AIDS treatment.

The question remains whether or not we can feasibly eradicate these issues by 2030. There are two possible outcomes that moral leaders, Malala, Desmond Tutu and Graca Machel have discussed: continuing on this road and ending extreme poverty, and failing to achieve our goal.

These leaders have warned that this next year, 2015, could be a year of great opportunity, but also holds a huge risk. In a letter written by these leaders, they call on other world leaders to make next year heavily influential in the fight against poverty. A quote taken from the letter:

“Down another path we have failed to build on progress, but have allowed the injustice of poverty, hunger and pandemics to spread… This is an entirely plausible outcome of a complacent business as usual approach to 2015.”

These leaders are giving a firm warning that if things aren’t taken seriously in 2015, the path toward ending extreme poverty could be severely stunted. The letter ends with motivation, saying that we should look with confidence toward a future where equal opportunity is given.

This week many decisions are being made and this could mean the difference between a poverty free world or back tracking. Diplomats from U.N. member states are finalizing a draft blueprint for the post 2015 development agenda since next year the U.N.’s development framework, Millennium Development Goals (MDG), will reach its deadline and will need to be replaced.

MDG was formulated in September of 2000 and focuses on eight main issues that serve as guides for organizations to work on. The number one on this list was to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.  As 2015 approaches and a new development plan is set in place, eradicating global poverty by 2030 is the new goal moving forward.

Brooke Smith

Sources: World Bank, ONE, ONE 2, ONE 3
Photo: Flickr

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

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


“They thought that the bullet would silence us. But they failed. And out of that silence came thousands of voices…Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen, can change the world. Education is the only solution.” These were the words spoken by Malala Yousafzai in her address to the UN Youth Assembly on July 12th, falling on her 16th birthday. In October, a Taliban gunman boarded Malala’s school bus in Pakistan’s northwestern Swat Valley and shot her in the head. The Taliban decided death was to be her consequence for campaigning on behalf of girls’ education. She survived, however, and in doing so has brought the issue of women’s education to the attention of the world.

After the shooting, Malala was flown from Pakistan to the U.K. for treatment and recovery, and now resides in Birmingham, England. Her appearance at the UN headquarters was her first public speech since October’s incident. She told the UN that the Taliban’s attack did not change her aims or stop her ambitions as they hoped, but has rather made her more determined. Malala called on politicians to take urgent action to ensure every child has the right to an education. “I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists,” said Malala.

Aid agencies agree that girls’ access to education in Pakistan is a real concern. The country ranks among the lowest in terms of girls’ enrollment, government spending, and literacy. Malala explained she was fighting for the rights of women because “they are the ones who suffer the most”. Unesco and Save the Children released a report which found that 95% of the 28.5 million children who are not receiving a primary school education live in low and lower-middle income countries: 44% in sub-Saharan Africa, 19% in south and west Asia and 14% in the Arab states. Girls make up 55% of these children without education and are often the victims of rape and other sexual violence that comes with armed conflict.

Adnan Rasheed, a senior Pakistani Taliban leader, recently sent a letter to Malala in which he does not apologize, but says he wished the attack “had never happened”. Rasheed further suggests that all that the Taliban opposes is western education. Despite this claim, there are currently 1,000 closed schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan due to arson attacks and threats. The Taliban have long argued that only schools used as army bases are attacked, however schools have been shut down hundreds of miles from any Pakistani army presence.

According to Gordon Brown, a United Nations Special Envoy on Global Education, in just the last few weeks alone 14 young women were killed when the bus carrying them from college was firebombed, a school principal was shot dead and his colleagues maimed in broad daylight at a prize giving ceremony held in the playground of an all-girls school in Karachi, and a teacher was gunned down in front of her son while driving to teach at an all-female college.

Illiteracy, particularly among girls, will hold back Pakistan’s development efforts if current education trends continue. It is also known that young people denied an education fall prey to extremist propaganda. Following the attack, Malala set up the ‘Malala Fund’, and presented a petition which included more than three million signatures to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, demanding education for all. The Malala Fund launches in the fall of 2013, and will focus on helping girls go to school and raise their voices for the right to education. Donations to the Malala Fund can be made at

Malala has shown millions of young girls that it is possible to stand up to the Taliban. Young people are insisting that education is a universal right. Malala has sparked a revolution and a modern civil rights struggle is now underway.

– Ali Warlich
Sources: BBC, CNN, The Malala Fund, BBC

At the Women in the World Summit earlier this week, Angelina Jolie paid tribute to Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban in October because of her activism on educating girls and women. Jolie also pledged $200,000 to an educational fund that will provide money to build a girls school in Pakistan.

The Malala Fund, which will be directed by the girl, is set to build a school large enough for 40 girls to attend. In a video played at the conference, Malala told the audience that she hopes the 40 girls educated at her namesake school will turn into 40 million girls, and said it was the “happiest moment of her life.”

In her tribute to Malala, Jolie told the audience of her story and how the Taliban set out to silence Malala and her message, but only “made her stronger.” Other stars to appear at the Women in the World conference include Oprah Winfrey, Meryl Streep, Barbara Walters, and Eva Longoria. Christiane Amanpour was also in attendance and moderated a panel on “The Next Generation of Malalas,” where she spoke to two young Pakistani girls also advocating for girls’ education.

Christina Kindlon

Source: CBC News