Flicking through the November Vogue Magazine, I came across an article sharing Malala Yousafzai’s experience. I find it hard to believe that Yousafzai is in the same year at university as me, but she has achieved so much and is such an inspiration to so many people.
I really related when Yousafzai stated, “The hardest part for me is managing my time, as, on top of my studies and balancing work with Malala Fund, I want to take advantage of everything university has to offer.” I completely understand that Yousafzai has so much more to juggle, but I appreciate how overwhelming overscheduled days are.
Although I throw myself into studying and working hard and often feel like I never stop and give my brain time to switch off, I never take this opportunity for granted. I know how lucky I am to have access to an incredible education, lectures and new perspectives. This view point was cemented further when I read that at 11 years old, Yousafzai woke up one morning and could not go to school because the Taliban had banned girls’ education in Swat, the region of Pakistan where she was born.
It is for this reason, I am so pleased that Yousafzai is the activist that she is today, speaking out and campaigning for girls’ education – I too want to live in a world where every girl is able to weigh her future career options in the way I hope to when I graduate.
I still cannot fathom that 130 million girls are out of school around the world. Many are forced to marry as young as 11 or 12 years old, so instead of learning, they are cooking, cleaning and raising children of their own. In many places, poverty forces girls to go to work so they can help support their families.
This hardest thing is to read was, ‘Girls my age, with all the dreams and aspirations that I have, stuck in a situation she didn’t create and unable to choose her own future. Everywhere I go today, I more than likely always see feminist T-shirts and hashtags, “The future is female”, “Girl power”, but if we really believe this, I agree that we need to support girls on the front lines of this fight.’
When girls have access to 12 years of education, primary and secondary, they reduce the risk of violent conflict, improve public health, slow the effects of climate change and grow economies. Getting more girls in education can change their life trajectory and make it easier for the next generation of girls from their communities to do the same; which is why Yousafzai’s campaigning is so aspirational.