In this series of articles, we’ll be casting the spotlight upon a number of young people around the world who are a true cause for inspiration.
These individuals are famous for a number of different reasons, but one consistency is that, despite their relative lack of years, they have stamped their mark upon issues that matter the most to them; turning them into global icons.
We can all learn a great deal from these individuals but as young people, we should look up to them not only in admiration for their work, but to feel empowered to say, “I can be like them”.
In this, the first piece of the series, we shine the empowering spotlight on… Malala Yousafzai.
|IN THE SPOTLIGHT|
Name – Malala Yousafzai
Age – 22
Nationality – Pakistan, now living in the UK
Cause for Inspiration – Fighting for Women’s rights to
Malala Yousafzai was born at home in 1997 to a family residing in North West Pakistan. Much of her upbringing was normal for the time and place she found herself, her father was a local school teacher and she lived at happily alongside her mother and 2 brothers.
However, it didn’t take long for her to find her voice.
Beginning in 2008, Malala started speaking out about the injustices the Taliban implemented on girls like her across North West Pakistan; namely that she wasn’t allowed to attend school like her brothers. They also banned girls like Malala from watching television, listening to music and going shopping; effectively stripping them of any leisure activities they might like to pursue.
By virtue of her Father’s connections to journalists wanting to share the “real” story of Taliban occupation in the country, she began blogging for the BBC anonymously, to get her, and her fellow young girls, message out to the world. By 2009 notes were being passed to the press as the Taliban continued their oppression, blowing up over 100 girls schools.
Having met with leading figures of the time, both in and out of Pakistan, she began to cultivate a larger following with appearances on documentaries and radio stations in different countries, always advocating for female education.
In December 2011, she was awarded Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and began to formulate initial ideas around the Malala Foundation, an organisation that would be designed to help girls across the world access a fair, quality education.
Unfortunately, as she became more popular, the Taliban became more enraged. Death threats followed and on 9th October 2012, an armed gunman boarded her school bus and shot her in the head.
Thankfully, medical assistance over the following months enabled her to make an almost full recovery. If the world didn’t know her before, they knew her now.
As a direct consequence, Pakistan, following huge popular pressure, passed the first Right to Education Bill. The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said that Malala had been targeted as the Taliban couldn’t handle “that level of empowerment” whilst former first lady Laura Bush drew comparisons of her plight to that of Anne Frank, famous of course for documenting her struggle as a Jew in Nazi occupied Netherlands..
Despite the attempt on her life, Malala would not be silenced. Since that event she has shared an audience with Queen Elizabeth, given a speech at Harvard University, met with President Barack Obama and addressed the Oxford Union.
Malala’s dedication to the cause has also extended beyond the borders of her home nation. Through her foundation, she has funded schools for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, established opportunities in the war ravaged Gaza Strip and campaigned for the displaced Rohingya population in Myanmar.
Her efforts culminated in her winning of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, seeing her become the youngest ever Nobel laureate.
Now she is studying PPE at Oxford and continuing her work through the Malala Fund, fighting for women’s access to education across the globe
Inspiration In Your World…
As well as sharing the stories of these inspiring young people, this series also intends to challenge you, the reader, to think how can we take, in this case, Malala’s example into our own lives?
- We stand up against injustices, no matter the threats facing us
- Fight oppression of those who seek to take away our future
- Battle for opportunities
- Use our voices to be heard, age doesn’t matter as Malala showed
- Become the beacon for those in your position and inspire those around you to join your cause
To find out more about Malala, her story and how she is continuing to help girls around the world, take a look at the following:
I Am Malala – the book documenting her life, co-authored by Malala herself
He Named Me Malala – a documentary of Malala’s childhood,
trailer -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzOSIQjHjBw
Malala Fund – website of Malala’s organisation, going into detail of the work they are doing https://www.malala.org/
Jacob Goodwin, UK
Currently volunteering here at Youth Legend as part of a career break, back home I used to work in Software Sales.My passion lies not only in sport, especially football and my beloved Doncaster Rovers, but also in hiking, music and craft beer