Most young women celebrate their sixteenth birthday by receiving their driver’s license, getting a new car and throwing a party for all their friends. Last year Malala Yousafzai celebrated her sixteenth birthday, not with a new car or an extravagant party, but with over 330,000 other young women who made the world’s first Malala Day an international success.
You will remember Malala Yousafzai from 2012, when the Taliban boarded her school bus and shot her and two of her fellow female schoolmates. Malala was targeted for the shooting due to her activism for women’s education and rights throughout the world. After recovering from the shooting, Malala returned to school and recently celebrated her seventeenth birthday last week on July 12.
Due to her resilient activism for women’s rights and education, the United Nations has named July 14th as “Malala Day.” It is a day when women should stand together and support their fellow women around the world who do not have the access to education they deserve. Malala explained the purpose of Malala Day in an article she wrote for the Washington Post: “We raise our voice so that those without a voice can be heard. We pledge not to forget the voiceless. Not to get tired of calling for the creation of a world that we want to live in. Not to lose hope, and not to stop caring.”
Last week, Malala launched her new hashtag #strongerthan to bring attention to women who are not receiving the education they deserve around the globe. This Malala Day, Malala hopes women throughout the world will join together through this hashtag to show each other support. Malala explains that, “We want to say that we are ‘stronger than.’ So I say that I am stronger than fear. I am stronger than violence. I am stronger than terrorism. I am stronger than every kind of thing that stops me from getting education.”
So what can you do to show that you are “stronger than”? Many of you are at a time in your life where you have the power to make a difference in the world, whether you know it or not. While using the Malala’s hashtag is a good first step, the possibilities to leave your mark on the world are endless. Simple encouraging words can change a young woman’s life. Volunteering and donating to charities can help give girls opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise.
The next generation of girls growing up in the world need someone to look up to. I need someone to look up to. I’m nineteen years old, working as an intern for Prime Women this summer before returning to college in the fall. I hope you are as inspired by Malala as I am. I want to be stronger than the fears I face in the coming years as I enter into a full time career. I want to make a difference. I hope you will show me and other young women like me how we can bring about change in the world where women are truly equal and treated as such.
For more about Malala Yousafzai and Malala day visit: www.malala.org
If you wish to become a partner with Malala Day, fill out the form here.