Long before the October 2012 attempted assassination of Malala Yousafzai shocked the world, the teenage blogger from Swat Valley, Pakistan, was a leading advocate for girls’ education. She wrote under a pen name about life under the Taliban for BBC Urdu, sharing the struggles she endured as she and her family advocated for girls’ education.
At 15, Malala is a leader. She shows us that leadership is about vision, sacrifice, and the resolve to persevere. In her first public statement since the attempt on her life, Malala told the world, “I want every girl to be educated.” Her message is clear: all children deserve an education and chance at shaping their own future.
Her courage motivates girls to choose leadership, to recognize that they have a voice, a platform, and the right to be heard. Malala has spurred a movement that reaches around the world to bind people of all generations, cultures, and beliefs in a collective commitment to preserve every child’s right to education.
Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala’s father, ran a school in their homeland of Swat Valley, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Ziauddin has been a great advocate and activist for educational change in Pakistan, and says of his daughter:
“Malala and all other female human rights activists must be heard seriously and sincerely. If today, their voice goes unheard then coming generations will go without basic human rights and sublime values which men and women have been striving for centuries to achieve. We can’t compromise on the peace and prosperity of our future generations.”
Even while she recovers and heals, Malala is intent on continuing her campaign as a voice for girls around the world. Earlier this year, Malala became the youngest person nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. A global community of supporters stands ready to help Malala as the young leader pursues her dream of a world where every child has access to an education.
In partnership with initiatives including the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up, Vital Voices and a group of committed individuals—education entrepreneurs, lawyers, teachers, filmmakers, business and tech leaders, engineers, innovators and NGO representatives, and the Yousafzai family—came together in late October 2012 to form the Malala Fund in just six days.
The Malala Fund will make grants to organizations and individuals supporting girls’ education in Pakistan and around the world. Our core committee, comprised of education experts and entrepreneurs, as well as the Yousafzai family and Malala herself, is nearly ready to administer its first grant, which honors Malala’s wishes by giving girls at high risk of entering the workforce the opportunity to enroll in school instead.