On July 12th a courageous girl, named Malala Yousafzai, turned 16.  Malala spend her 16th birthday fighting for the rights of education for young people worldwide.  She took that fight to the floor of the United Nations in New York, in a moving and inspirational speech.  I’m not sure about the rest of you, but on my 16th birthday I was more concerned with whether or not I was going to have a party.

In case you don’t know the story of Malala, I’ll fill you in on one of our greatest living heros.  Malala was a school girl in Pakistan’s northwest region.  It was a region that was heavily influenced by the Taliban.  During the Taliban’s attempts to gain full control of the region, they tried to ban girls from attending school.  They had some success, which drove Malala to become an activist for the education of girls.  She began to rise in prominence as her voice was being heard throughout Pakistan.  On October 9, 2012, the Taliban decided they wanted to silence her voice.  While riding a bus home from school that day, the Taliban attempted to assassinate her and shot her in the neck and head.  Malala and her family were flown to Britain for treatment and to live in safety.  Just ten months after her horrific ordeal Malala stood in front of the United Nations and continued her fight.  In April, Time magazine named her as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.”  And the UN Secretary General designated July 12th as Malala Day.

 

Here a few of the inspiring quotes from her speech to the United Nations.

“We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced.”

“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. “

“There was a time when women social activists asked men to stand up for their rights, but this time we will do it by ourselves.”

“We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.”

“Malala Day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights”

 

If you get the chance, listen to Malala’s speech.  It will give you goosebumps.  Let’s all remember Malala Day next July 12th, and in the meantime be grateful for the opportunity we all have for an education.

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