Nearly one year ago, a teenage girl was shot by gunmen for defying a Taliban campaign to close schools in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Her name is Malala Yousafzai.
It has been rare, certainly in recent times, that someone from my home country, Pakistan, has become a household name for courage, dignity and passion for a worthy cause. Yet Malala Yousafzai has done exactly that.
Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani schoolgirl who has become an icon for her devotion to women's education, turned 16 on Friday, and her birthday is now a symbol of global girls' education.
Based on Kabbalah's mystical Tree of Life, the Kabbalah Awards consist of 10 categories that correspond to the 10 emanations of Divine energy that make up the Tree of Life. Each winner illuminates the Divine in this world in his or her category.
Malala is an icon for the struggle which seems so foreign to girls like me, comfortable in our "normal" while girls our age must fight and sacrifice and face seemingly insurmountable odds to change theirs.
Sometimes in addition to poverty, teenage pregnancies do emanate from cultural issues.
A magazine cover isn't the be all or end all in anyone's noteworthy story. But given that so many people ignore that violence against women and girls is accepted on many levels, putting the face of a girl who's managed to survive it could go a long way to force them to acknowledge the reality.
Solving the gender equality problem in education will take far more than dollars being funneled directly toward getting girls into the classroom. It will take a cracking down on militants who believe that girls should not be in the classroom at all.
By virtue of their gender, girls are both poignant symbols and easy targets. Their potential is exploited and limited, in different ways, in nearly all societies.
The goal of the Malala Fund is to provide Malala Yousafzai with a fund she can direct so when she is well and ready, she can pursue her vision for girls education and empowerment.
Today, because of Zubeida's courage to use her voice, report on other women's voices, and argue for hiring policies that would allow women to occupy all positions in the newsroom, life is different for women in Pakistan.
It's a governance challenge that we don't test U.S. presidential candidates by asking about global health and education issues and what our leadership is going to do to solve these most serious and complex challenges.
Pressing for basic women's rights in Pakistan and Afghanistan is part of a regional challenge and should be a priority for Western feminists. Instead, many tolerate sexist violence in the area and subjugation of women through customary law and religious legislation mandated by the state.
The Security Council and the International Criminal Court have both shown a lack of determination to treat crimes against children with the gravity that their mandates demand.
Malala's story challenges us to ask ourselves what we would say if our own child wanted to speak out on a subject that could put her at risk.
Leaders from around the world today will talk about the vital importance of girls' right to education, but all the words in the world will not speak louder than the grim tragedy that has befallen Malala, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban.