The young activist who showed us that challenges do not define you

Malala Yousafzai is a great inspiration many people across the world because of how she has overcome several challenges to change global politics as a youth. She’s a beacon of hope who proves that young people do have a say in how the world is governed and that we can work towards its improvement.

Malala’s story begun in Mingora, Pakistan. She attended her father’s school there, and as a teacher himself, Ziauddin emphasized the importance of education to Malala. That is why she protested so intensely when the extremist group, the Taliban, started to enforce a ban on the education of girls. To expose the terrorists robbing her of education, Malala wrote blog posts for the BBC at 11 years old.

‘I have the right to education. I have the right to play. I have the right to sing. I have the right to talk. I have the right to speak up’

Malala said, and indeed, every single person is deserving of these rights. The more she wrote, the louder her voice became.

Frightened by her pen, the extreme group resorted to shooting Malala in the head – she was only 15 years old then. However, a bullet could not stop Malala. On her 16th birthday, only 9 months after her life-threatening and traumatic injury, she told the United Nations:

‘Nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear, and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born. I am the same Malala. My hopes are the same. My dreams are the same’

The 12th of July became Malala day, to remember those forgotten children who want education. The following year, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2014 because of her global efforts in supporting educational equality for young girls – she remains the youngest person to have ever received this award at 17 years old.

Malala shows us that challenges do not have to hold you back, and research supports this too. Three important positive influences were found to help people through difficult times: getting support from others, having self-determination, and finding a creative means of self-expression. This holds true for Malala as she expresses great resolve, and with the support from her father, Ziauddin, she continues her mission to ensure education rights for children across the world. The young activist declared that:

‘One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world’

Only together can we move towards progress: we must help each other because if not us, then who? And If not now, then when?

Let’s celebrate Malala Day on the 12th of July, and remember how Malala, as a young girl, opposed terrorists and won, and how she continues to fight for educational rights. Her story of overcoming fear can help us to feel brave enough to face our own challenges.

Written by: Robin Ferdous