Last year, when Malala Yousafzai was nominated for the Nobel Prize at the age of 16, I felt conflicted. She's so young, what will she do with her uninvited fame? There are many worthy candidates and issues. She is the youngest person ever nominated and the first girl.
This year, when she receives her second nomination, there is no doubt in my mind who the winner should be. Malala's plight has brought attention to an issue that greatly affects so many, but is not embraced by all. While there are numerous people working hard to advocate for girls' education globally, there are many governments that do not embrace these efforts and therefore, their girls remain uninformed and unqualified to take on life's demands.
And it will remain that way until it becomes unacceptable to remain complicit any longer. And it's a leader like Malala who is making it hard for these governments to ignore the issue any longer.
Others are encouraging her on. Girl Rising did it with their monumental 2013 movie and just last week, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon put it on the agenda in Davos, saying, "There is no more valuable investment than in a girls' education." I couldn't agree more.
Having lived in Asia for a number of years, I saw firsthand what a lack of educational opportunities means to a woman long-term and the poverty nations suffer as a result of a strong percentage of their population remaining unschooled.
Malala forces our moral conscience to recognize that she is just one of many and asks us to do what we should have done a long time ago: ignore these girls no longer.
And that means a lot. She is not stepping back or slowing down in the year since she was attacked. If anything, she is stepping in more, sending much-needed funds from her new foundation to those areas of the world that need investment in girls' education most, including Syrian refugees camp and saying, "Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right."
That leadership and fearlessness will change the world for girls and it should be honored and encouraged. If not now, when?
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