Once again Malala Day is here, and for those of you who are unaware of what Malala Day is or who Malala is these few facts will refresh your memory.
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education, on October 19, 2012 Malala was 15 years old on a school bus home when she was targeted by the Taliban and shot in the head. She survived and has since gone on to be an advocate for the rights of girls and women all over the world.
July 12th is officially Malala Day and it is here again to remind us that girls still lack basic rights to education, of the world’s 650 million primary school-age children, at least 250 million are not learning basics in reading and mathematics, many of whom are girls (UNICEF 2014). 130 million girls do not have access to education, and generations of women have been left behind, girls are kept from school due to poverty, cultural barriers, early marriage, lack of sanitary practices, and domestic work.
Malala has been an advocate for education for all, particularly for girl’s equal opportunity to education. Despite her hardships and the challenges she has faced in order to obtain an education, Malala has persevered, campaigning for equality in education. Her current campaign calls for governments to provide 12 years of free, safe, quality education for every girl. Malala has argued that if governments stopped spending money on the military for just 8 days, they would have the 39 billion needed to provide the 12 years of free education to every child in the world (Rights Info 2016).
The education that girls receive translates fully into their current life and into their future, becoming educated lessens their chance of child marriage, they are 50% more likely to have a child who survives past five, maternal mortality would fall by 70%, and three million children under 5 would be saved every year (UNICEF 2014).
Better educated women earn more, every year of school a woman attends increases her earning and allows for a steady job, which allows for higher wages and improved livelihoods of families. Education provides women and girls with the knowledge to guide their own lives, gain skills to enter the labour market and live a happier and healthier life. More so, empowering women lessens their acceptance of domestic violence and results in better educated children. Malala says,
“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child and one teacher can change the world”.
Malala’s story and her fight to overcome cultural barriers demonstrates that no situation is too difficult to overcome and that educating women can solve the world’s problems. With perseverance, advocacy and by making her voice heard Malala epitomises what the strength of a woman can accomplish even when so many obstacles stand in her way.
Today, let’s celebrate Malala day by supporting girls’ education. After all, the African Proverb says,
“Educate a boy, and you’re educating an individual. Educate a girl and you are educating an entire community.”
Written by Ashleigh Mitenko