MINGORA, Pakistan–All it takes is one. One Pakistani girl standing up for the voiceless and marginalized. One courageous blogger bravely documenting oppression in her land. One bullet meant to silence, and one survivor whose life is now a symbol for world peace and a champion for education.
The life of Malala Yousafzai, a mere 16-year-old, has already had an incredible impact on the world. As a BBC blogger at the age of 11, Malala gave a voice to the fears and difficulties of growing up as a young girl in the Pakistan Swat Valley, who wished for education in a safe environment. In an attempt to subdue this voice of criticism and inspiration to challenge the status quo, the Taliban tried to assassinate Malala on her school bus when she was only 15.
Her survival and subsequent actions have quickly become iconic throughout the world. Here is a short list of how one girl and her courage to stand up for peace and education has caused ripples across the globe. Here are nine facts about Malala Yousafzai
- For her actions as a teenage education activist, she is among the top three finalists for the European Union’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
- Malala will work to raise $500 million dollars over the next three years in partnership with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and rights organization “A World at School.”
- She was awarded the Children’s Peace Prize for her promotion of education for girls in her homeland.
- After starting the Malala Fund, which advocates for universal access to education, she won this year’s Clinton Global Citizens Award.
- On July 12, in New York on her 16th birthday, Malala gave a speech at the United Nations’ first anniversary of the Global Education First initiative in New York. Exemplifying her advocacy of education as a way to achieve peace, she stated that countries in conflict, like Afghanistan, need books and not weapons.
- Malala received the Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award in Dublin for her advocacy of girls’ education – it was handed to her by famous U2 singer Bono.
- On October 19, she will address the Global Citizenship Commission as the guest of honor and call on the international community to support human rights across the world.
- She will receive the 2013 RAW in WAR (Reach All Women in WAR) Anna Politkovskaya Award.
- Speculated as one of the top finalists for the Nobel Peace Prize, she would be the youngest recipient ever and only one of 15 female laureates if she were to win.
This list is only a snapshot of the achievements of a single girl. Malala decided to take tragedy and transform it into a positive force for change. In a display of perseverance and bravery that is cause for awe, she has through her actions touched the world in a profound way. By standing up to injustice and insisting on equality and education for all, she has already made progress to her goals. Her most crowning achievement was not included in this list though: it is not an award or a speech, but instead, it is how she has reminded the world that humans are capable of such an encompassing empathy and generosity that they can shake the world.