A few weeks ago we talked about Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani 14 year old blogger who was shot by the Taliban for the "crime" of being an educated, outspoken and brave girl. Thankfully, she is now reportedly making good progress after emergency surgery in the UK. Her father, Ziauddin, has spoken of her recovery and how she is "grateful and amazed" at the outpouring of support from all over the world. "They have helped her survive and stay strong," he continued.
A month on from the attack, support for Malala is still strong. Today has been declared a day of global action in Malala's name to ensure that her struggle to improve girls access to education continues. 34 million adolescent girls around the world are still not attending school. This has to change. It has been demonstrated time and time again that educating girls not only improves their opportunities for a better life, but enriches their communities too. Empowering girls empowers everyone. This is the reason that Malala and other girls, campaigners, and especially girl campaigners like her are so important.
Across the world, tens of thousands of people have signed a petition calling for Malala to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Shahida Choudhary, who began the petition on Change.org is one of them, explaining that "Malala doesn't just represent one young woman, she speaks out for all those who are denied an education purely on the basis of their gender. There are girls like Malala in the UK and across the world. I was one of them."
What has happened to Malala is appalling, as is the fact that it took the shooting of three innocent school girls to push this issue to the front pages of the news. However, there is a lot to be hopeful here. The Taliban hoped to silence a young girl's cries for equality and peace. Instead that message has been amplified around the world.
If you’d like to join in the campaign for girls' education and take up Malala's cause, you can sign the petition to nominate her for the Nobel Peace Prize. You can find out about what’s happening today and how to show your support online here, or just search using the hashtag #IamMalala. More importantly, you can sign the "I am Malala" petition, calling on Pakistan to agree to a plan to deliver education to all children, all countries to outlaw discrimination against girls, and international organisations to ensure that all 61 million children currently not in school are in education by the end of 2015.
These are big goals, and I’ve no doubt that they will be difficult to accomplish. However, as Whitney Houston told us, "I believe the children are the future." This isn't an issue we can brush under the carpet anymore. We need to empower girls – and we need to do it now.
Girl Museum Inc.