10/08/2013 09:16 pm ET Updated Dec 08, 2013

A New Generation's Voice

On Oct. 9, 2012, members of the Taliban boarded a school bus and shot 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai in the head and neck as she returned home from school. Targeted because of her advocacy for education and women's rights in Pakistan, Malala immediately became a symbol for the 57 million children in the world who currently do not have access to education.

On July 12, 2013, her 16th birthday, Malala stood in front of hundreds at the United Nations to put education first, calling upon governments and world leaders to provide free and compulsory education for every child in the world. She is truly transforming the landscape of global education through her courage and bravery, and this is why we are proud to honor her at the Pencils of Promise Annual Gala on Oct. 24.

Malala is a reminder to children and adults throughout the world not to take anything, even the basic task of going to school, for granted. She provides a courageous voice for the voiceless, speaking up for the right of education for every child. Students in the communities where we work understand that their education will positively impact their lives, as well as the lives of their families and communities, and therefore schooling is eagerly sought after with the hopes of greater opportunity ahead.

She has also recently launched the Malala Fund, which will work to bring education to disadvantage communities and amplify the voices of those who are advocating for education. In addition, she has teamed up with former British Prime Minster Gordon Brown (whose wife, Sarah Brown, was a 2012 Gala Honoree) to raise funds to help educate the Syrian children refugees who are currently living in Lebanon, displaced by their country's conflict. And most importantly, she was officially selected this week as a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.

We have all been so inspired by the incredible strength and courage of Malala, and I am confident that her voice will help impact many more children around the world. At only 16, she is an incredible example of how a generation empowered will empower the world.

As she stated earlier this year, "One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world."

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