10/11/2012 09:29 am ET Updated Dec 11, 2012

On International Day of the Girl, We Honor Malala Yousafzai

Because Malala, you were viciously targeted and shot down days before we celebrate the first "International Day of the Girl, " I write these words to honor you -- and all the girls like you, who despite the wolves of hatred, inequality, and violence, insist on your human rights.

Malala, your steely courage that insisted on every girl having the chance to attend school, reminds us that the Day of the Girl is not some simplistic response to gender-based violence, or the newest act of branding girls' issues on the international stage.

No, Malala, your unyielding bravery over the years, and the horror of what has just happened to you, roots us in our responsibility to stand up for girls -- the girl denied the opportunity to live out her full promise here in the United States, in Pakistan, and in every corner of the global community. We must call out the violence done to you as part of the global phenomenon of violence committed against young women and girls, that is unfortunately borderless, that is embedded in the landscape of every nation -- in the First World and Third, in Christian and Muslim nations alike. We must stand up for girls -- here and abroad -- who because of their gender alone are rendered more vulnerable to coercion, rape, abuse, and the denial of their full humanity.

Malala, if words alone could heal you, my words would cover over the holes bullets left on your head and neck, wash the blood off your beautiful olive skin, and restore your strength. We celebrate this day, the Day of the Girl, in honor and praise of you, and how you have shown the world that every girl child deserves the chance to learn, to thrive, to be safe, and to be treated with dignity.