Have you ever asked someone to name inspirational people, dead or alive? You’ll probably get names like Martin Luther King, Neil Armstrong, Tariq Ramadan… I mean, we can’t deny that these and so many other men have done amazing things and are definitely worth the title, but I’ve noticed that most people only name men when it comes to powerful people. Little do they know that women have done and are still doing some pretty amazing things. So this article goes out to all women from all over the world whose names are forgotten or simply ignored because of the patriarchal society we live in.
Her latest achievement was only a few days ago on her birthday. Most people throw a party for their birthdays, but the amazing Malala Yousafzai opened a school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon instead. She is only eighteen years old, but she’s already a huge inspiration to people from all over the world.
It is hard to believe how young she is when you look at all her amazing achievements. Malala was born on July 12, 1997 in Pakistan. It was at a very young age that she started advocating for girls’ rights to education, because in 2008 the Taliban started attacking schools in Swat. In September of that same year, Malala gave a speech about her right to education in Peshawar. She titled this speech “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education”.
A year later Malala started blogging for the BBC anonymously under the name Gul Makai, but this anonymity didn’t last for long. On December 2009 her cover was blown. But this didn’t stop her from reaching her growing audience, as she kept on speaking out about the education issue concerning girls. Her courage lead her to winning two different prizes in 2011: the International Children’s Peace Prize and Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize.
The Taliban attack
Unfortunately, one year later, a horrible attack on Malala took place. As she was driving home from school, gunmen stopped her bus asking who Malala was and shot her, the bullet hit her right in the head and also two other girls sitting next to her were injured. This caused Malala to be in a very critical condition. In order to give her the best medical care she was transferred to Birmingham in England.
Many people would have quit at this point, but not Malala. After a long recovery process she continued to pursue her goal to have education for girls worldwide. In 2013 she even gave a speech at the United Nations and wrote her own book: “I am Malala, the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.”
Malala has won many impressive prizes already but the most remarkable one was when she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, making her the youngest person to ever win this prize.
This week it was Malala’s birthday, and this day, July 14, is also known as Malala Day. Apart from opening her school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon, she celebrated her birthday by asking people to take pictures with their favourite book and sharing it with the hashtag #BooksNotBullets. That way, more attention would be drawn to the importance of education.
To end the story of one of the most inspiring women of our century, I quote Malala Yousafzai: “When the world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”