This past Friday was Malala Day. Malala Yousafzai visited the United Nations and addressed the UN Youth Assembly to advocate for peace and education. To see this girl standing at the podium speaking with such grace and confidence only 9 months after she was shot in the head by the Taliban was beyond incredible. Before that, UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown introduced her to the podium in the best possible way. He said something along the lines of “The Taliban never wished for you to hear these next words: Happy 16th Birthday!”
Malala talked about the need for peace and access to education for every single child. There should be no excuses for us not to work towards that goal. I felt tears sting my eyes when I heard this part of her speech:
Dear Friends, on the 9th of October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends too. They thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed. And then, out of that silence came, thousands of voices. The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. My dreams are the same.
If you missed her speech, not to worry! You can watch it here. And you can read the full text of her speech here.
Besides hearing Malala’s speech, we at #GIRLWITHABOOK received some phenomenal news from the UN! After several attempts of trying to get in touch with the Pakistani consulate in the UK and sending copies to the consulate, we were finally able to deliver our photo book to Malala! On Malala Day! We sent an additional copy to the UN a couple weeks ago after learning that Malala would be visiting the UN on her birthday, and then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave the book to her himself.
You can see more pictures of Malala Day through the UN flickr account.
I think I’m still freaking out by the fact that Olivia and I actually managed to get this photo book into Malala’s hands. And none of it would have been possible without the support from hundreds of people from all over the world. #GIRLWITHABOOK would be nothing without the love that our followers shared through their pictures.
As for what our next plans are for #GIRLWITHABOOK…well we realized that we downright suck at fundraising. So we are working on building those skills and we’re hoping that eventually we can properly learn how to effectively bring in/contribute money to girls’ education, a cause we care about deeply.
Meanwhile, we are also in the process of creating a website/blog where we hope to establish an online community that is devoted to talking about women’s rights, the basics of feminism, the importance of education and the immense difference it can bring to a girl’s life. We haven’t gone public with it yet, but Inshallah (God willing) we plan on doing so within a couple weeks!
Stay tuned. This movement is just beginning.