[Editor: We bring back this amazing story written by one of our young editors over summer as Malala goes on a book tour]
Courageous. Determined. Empowering. These are the attributes that have described Malala Yousafzai since October 9, 2012 when Taliban gunmen entered her school bus and shot her in the head.
Before this fateful day, Malala had been speaking out for girls’ education in her native country of Pakistan. Today, she is a global symbol of change. The doctors, who treated Malala after she was shot, didn’t expect that she would live but she did so much more than just survive- she thrived.
Malala has recently released a book titled "I Am Malala", has been featured in talk shows as well as had the opportunity to meet with U.S President Barack Obama.
“Nothing Has Changed in My Life”
On July 12th, her sixteenth birthday, Malala made her first public appearance since she was shot. She spoke at the United Nations (UN) in front of students, teachers, and distinguished guests such as former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on what has been coined “Malala Day.”
Throughout her speech she received enthusiastic applause and more than a handful of people wiped tears from their eyes. In her speech, Malala made it clear that the Taliban did not achieve their goal of silencing her strong voice. “Nothing changed in my life,” Malala said, “except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.” Malala told her audience that she will continue to fight for better education in her country and all over the world.
Peace, Not Revenge
According to recent studies, Pakistan has the second lowest school enrollment rates in the world. Only 2% of government funding is set aside for education which is not nearly enough to provide the books, pens, and resources that contribute to a solid education. Malala wants to see this change.
When Malala says that she wants to get every girl and boy into school, she means it. She does not even exclude the people who tried to harm her. “I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists,” she said, shocking many people in the audience with this act of forgiveness.
Malala knows why the Taliban targeted her. “The extremists are afraid,” Malala explained. “The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them.” Malala believes that girls who are given the opportunity to have a good education are also given power. This power can lead to amazing things such as change and equality.
Through her speech, Malala is trying to help us understand that a gun may have wounded her body but not her heart and definitely not her will. She wants us to remember that weapons may hurt, they may even take lives, but they will never take away the courage, determination, and power that education gives us. Don't miss this inspiring video!