17-year-old Malala won the Nobel Peace prize on Friday for her brave campaign for girl’s rights, but there’s still a long way to go
The accolades that have poured in since the announcement that Pakistani school girl and girl’s rights campaigner Malala Yousouzai had won this year’s Nobel Peace prize is proof that the world acknowledges the essence of her campaign and the importance of achieving equality for the girl child around the world.
Malala shared the Nobel Peace Prize with another brave campaigner Kailash Satyarthi from India whose tireless work in stopping oppression of children through child labour earned him the prestigious award.
While Satyarthi is of an age that is roughly expected of a Nobel Laureate, Malala is only a teenager at 17, making her the youngest ever recipient of the award.
As we celebrate the day of the girl child today, it is only fit that we look at what makes this young girl from a small village in Pakistan such a global force that world leaders and even Heads of States want to talk to her and work with her, and it’s not really hard to see why.
Malaga is simply the antidote to a cancer that has plagued developing countries in Africa and Asia for centuries. A cancer that has seen girls as young as 6 married off to men old enough to be their fathers in the name of culture. A cancer that gives communities the right to cut and mutilate young girls in the name of female circumcision. A cancer that prevents girls from obtaining an education because they’re second-rate citizens and more importantly, a cancer that stops girls from dreaming, because their place is in the kitchen and nowhere else.
Malala was shot in the head for speaking out for what she believed in, for refusing to be told by the Taliban that she had no place in the classroom because she’s a girl.
Her miraculous recovery from that horrible ordeal and the fact that rather than cower into the shadows in fear and surrender, she picked up from where she left off and came back even stronger, more determined and today, she’s being celebrated for it.
Her courage should show every single girl in all the nooks and crannies of the world that no one can stop you from achieving your dreams if you’re determined.
Not your father, your uncle or school teacher. It just takes courage and determination.
Perhaps the most striking thing about Malala is not just her courage and drive, but her humility. The ability to speak way beyond her years, but still maintain that childlike innocence…almost.
It’s hard to think that a 17-year-old would be notified that she’s just won a prestigious award like the Nobel Peace Prize and then insist on finishing her school work, but that’s just Malala.
This excerpt from her acceptance speech sums it all up.
When I found out that I won today when I was in school, studying Chemistry. I told my teacher I needed to finish my school assignment. Education is my top priority. I was learning with my friends, where I believe every child should be. But 57 million of them are still out school. We still have a lot to do.
The road to education, peace and equality is very long. But I know millions of children are walking beside me. If we go together, we will achieve our goals and we will complete our journey. We have to walk together.