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I Am Malala: A Crusader for Girls' Education Worldwide

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I won't forget the morning I saw the news. I reluctantly picked up the paper and my heart sank. There on the front page was her picture. A pair of deep dark eyes stared back at me. The innocent yet determined eyes of a child well beyond her years. Her name is Malala Yousafzai and she is on the cusp of womanhood. A mere 14 years old: half child, half woman. Still a girl, but with the power, bravery and perserverence of only the strongest women on earth. The strength and courage to stand up to an entire nation built on repression. The determination to fight for something so important to her, that she would risk her life for it. The simple right to learn.

Malala Yousafzai is the 14-year-old school girl from Pakistan who was savagely shot by the Taliban on her way to school. A symbol of bravery, courage and strength for over 32 million girls worldwide who are denied the simple right to an education each and every day.

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What is so incredibly striking about Malala is that she made a decision to stand up for what she believed was wrong. That girls should have the right to go to school. Little did she know that her act of defiance would make her a crusader and activist for girls education around the globe.

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Unfortunately, education is not universal, especially in the developing parts of the world where children are denied the right to education which further reinforces a vicious cycle of poverty and desperation that is spiraling about of control.

Here are some sad facts regarding children's education around the world*:

  • 115 million child laborers are involved in hazardous work.
  • 61 million children are shut out of primary school.
  • 34 million adolescent girls are not in school.
  • 16 million children with disabilities not in school; 1/4 of these children are blind.

*Source: Education Envoy

These facts are a tragedy.

However, they are even more devastating when we examine the statistics on girls education**:

  • Globally, more than 600 million girls live in the developing world and of that number, 77.6 million girls are currently not enrolled in either primary or secondary education.
  • Of 163 million illiterate youth in the world, more than half - 63 percent-are female.
  • Around the world, 250 million adolescent girls live in poverty.
  • Sixty-five low and middle income countries are losing approximately92 billion per year by failing to educate girls to the same standards as boys.
  • One girl in seven in developing countries marries before age 15.

**Source: 10×10/International Day of the Girl

Imagine the endless possibilities if girls are educated. Think of all the untapped potential that nations are washing down the drain. Not only is the right to education a basic human right that all people should have regardless of gender, it makes an enormous amount of sense to educate girls. Imagine the improvement in peoples lives if girls were educated.

Stand With Malala on November 10th:

The world is encouraged as Malala Yousafzai continues her fight since being shot in the head by the Taliban simply because she wanted to go to school. This weekend when she stood up for the first time since being laid low by the dreadful attack, the world witnessed her standing up for 32 million girls around the world who are denied daily their right to go to a classroom and learn. That is why we are declaring November 10th a global day of action for Malala and 32 million girls more. On that day, one month following the assassination attempt, as UN Special Envoy for Global Education, I will travel to Pakistan to deliver to President Zardari our million-plus petition to make education a reality for all Pakistani children. We will let the world know that we will no longer accept keeping girls out of school. You can find out more and sign the petition by visiting www.iammalala.org.

Source: The Office of the UN Special Envoy for Global Education

Education Envoy has delegated November 10th as a day dedicated to the millions of children, and, in particular, girls, across the world who are denied a right to education.

Per their website, here is how you can help:

  • Sign the petition to call on Pakistan to agree to a plan to deliver education to all its children: http://educationenvoy.org/
  • Spread the word. Inform your audience of the #IamMalala campaign and invite them to sign the petition.
  • Spend November 10th in solidarity for Malala Day. Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown -- the UN Special Envoy for Global Education -- and his wife Sarah will deliver this petition to the Pakistani president on this day.

All information above is taken directly from www.educationenvoy.org.

Please take a few moments out of your day to help girls receive an education! We can no longer tolerate intolerance. It is time to let our voice be heard.

Photo credits: Wikipedia Commons