#GIRLWITHABOOK

Last Monday, my friend Olivia and I decided to launch this idea called #GIRLWITHABOOK. At the time we were venting to each other about how horrified and utterly disgusted we were by the Taliban’s sick attempt at killing Malala Yousafzai on her school bus, and we wanted to do something about it. We wanted to do something for Malala, and at the same time stick it to the Taliban. So Olivia says to me “Let’s get people to post pictures of themselves with books! A favorite book, a random book, a school book, you name it. And we’ll post it on facebook, twitter, etc. to show Malala our support.” My reaction: THIS IS AWESOME.

The Taliban showed what they are most afraid: A GIRL WITH A BOOK.

So that’s exactly what we did. We created a Facebook page, Pinterest board, Twitter account and a tumblr. It sounds excessive, but can you blame us? We wanted the whole world to show their support for Malala. And as they say…a picture is worth a thousand words.

The first thing we did was message and email our own friends. Anyone we knew, we told them about our idea. Slowly but surely we started receiving submissions from our friends and family. They took pictures of themselves holding books, reading to people, reading with their pets, or reading together with someone else. They sent them in and we posted them. The number of likes on Facebook increased from 10 to 40 to 120 to 200. We were getting supporters from all over the world, and including other organizations like the National Women’s History Museum. And then something even more amazing happened.

Half the Sky, a book written by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, tweeted and posted on their Facebook wall about us. As a result, we got over 400 likes on our Facebook page in a single day. Half the Sky is now also a film, a game, and a movement. All of which are about “raising awareness and inspiring action to turn oppression to opportunity for women worldwide.” The outpouring of support after their post was incredible.

Within a single week, we managed to launch a movement of sorts. It all began with a 15 year old girl named Malala Yousafzai, but now she has come to symbolize the hope that education can bring to both girls and boys. She is the one who inspired and touched everyone’s hearts with her courage. My friend and I simply wanted to find a way to thank her and show her that we stand with her. We stand with Malala, we stand with all boys and girls who are fighting for a chance to learn. Education is everybody’s right, and I truly believe it is our duty to do whatever we can to make sure that everyone gets their chance.

As of today, on Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 9:44 PM, we have 811 supporters on Facebook, about 51 followers on Twitter, 72 followers on Pinterest, and 17 followers on tumblr (our tumblr is fairly new compared to the others). With the help of other people who believe in Malala and what she fights for, we can achieve this. We can stop extremists from taking away our education, our freedom, our rights. In the end, they won’t win. We will.

Here’s some more exciting news. After we receive a significant number of pictures, Olivia and I plan on compiling all of them into a book and sending it to Malala. All of us are praying and wishing for her full recovery, and we thought this would be a great way for us to show just how much she has come to mean to us.

If you want to join the #GIRLWITHABOOK movement, please submit a picture of yourself with a book to girlwithabookmovement@gmail.com. Make sure to include the title of the book and the city, state, country that you took your picture

Feel free to post on our Facebook page or tweet at us @_girlwithabook as well. We invite submissions from girls, boys, men and women, because a cause like this needs support from everyone.

Here are some of my favorite pictures.

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Malala Yousafzai: A Girl Worth Fighting For

I haven’t been this angry in a long time. Maybe I’ve never been this angry. On October 9, 2012, Taliban militants stopped a school bus filled with girls returning home from school and asked for a girl named Malala Yousafzai. Malala is a 14 year old girl from the Swat Valley in Pakistan. From the age of 11 years old, she has been an activist demanding for her right to have an education. She was forced to do that because the Taliban had been taking over Swat and blowing up girls schools and committing other atrocities. Whoever resisted, they beat them, humiliated them, shot them, beheaded them, and then left their corpses out in the streets for everyone to see. Despite all of this, Malala had the strength and courage to fight back by learning wherever she could whether it was at school or at home. Last year she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize and awarded Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize by Yousaf Raza Gilani, the prime minister of Pakistan at that time.

So you can understand my horror and my fury when it was reported that these Taliban monsters hunted down a 14 year old girl and shot her simply because she wanted to go to school. Thankfully she is still alive and the bullet was retrieved when she underwent surgery, but she’s still fighting for her life. I’m amazed by her bravery and shocked that there are girls who are literally risking their lives just so they can read books and learn math. I doubt that many Americans think twice about how precious an education really is while riding their bus to school. I know I never did. I never had to fight for the right to learn because it was always a given in my life.

A Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, justified their actions by saying, “She has become a symbol of Western culture in the area; she was openly propagating it,” Mr. Ehsan said, adding that if she survived, the militants would certainly try to kill her again. “Let this be a lesson.”

All day I’ve been cursing in my head at these disgusting creatures who dare to call themselves men. No, they’re not even human. I hate them. I actually hate them. Who does shit like this, let alone justifies it? And I’m even more frustrated at the fact that I feel completely helpless. For everything that the Taliban has done, for all the lives they have destroyed…I hope they get what’s coming to them. Something far worse than death. I thought I would only read about such brutality in history books, not the news.

Please read and watch this video by Adam B. Ellick and Irfan Ashraf about Malala and her father Ziauddin, who is a schoolteacher and a huge advocate for girls’ education. My ‘Small Video Star’ Fights for Her Life

For anyone who wants to help Malala through her recovery and her family, please donate here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/250706