“Let us make our future now, and let us make our dreams tomorrow's reality.” -Malala Yousafzai 

Fearless, strong, brave, educated, inspiring and significant are just a few of the many positive words we can use to describe this issue’s Woman of The Month. She’s our fighter, our activist, our warrior, who has fought and is continuing to fight for the rights of all children, women and people in the world. No matter what age, gender or religion. She is this generation’s peacemaker and we at Sparks intend on acknowledging our brave warrior.

Malala Yousafzai was born on the 12 of July 1997, making her only 19 years old, to Ziauddin Yousafzai and his wife Toorpekai Yousafzai. She grew up with her two younger brothers in the Swat District of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa under the Sunni Muslim religion of Pashtun ethnicity. Malala has always taken pride of both her religion and nationality, carrying the flag of her homeland wherever she goes and despite the nasty remarks people have to say about her home and her people. I want people to remember that Pakistan is my country. It is like my mother, and I love it dearly. Even if its people hate me, I will still love it.” Her parents had decided to give her the name ‘Malala’ after Malalai of Maiwand who was a famous Pushtun poet and warrior woman from southern Afghanistan. Her well known name brings the meaning ‘grief-stricken’ which suits the struggles and challenges faced by our own warrior. 

Malala Yousafzai developed a thirst for knowledge and education at a very young age. Malala cherished the world of education with all her heart. She was taught by her father and had dreamed on becoming a doctor. However, after being encouraged by her father, Malala set her eyes for bigger dreams: to become a politician. Malala was referred to, by her father, as someone unique and special. Therefore, she was allowed to stay up late nights to discuss politics with her parents while her two other brothers were sent to bed. “Let us make our future now, and let us make our dreams tomorrow's reality.” 

Being only 11 years old, Malala Yousafzai started speaking out about educational rights in the September of 2008. She was eager and determined to fight for her right to go to school for a proper education. She was not only fighting for herself, but for all the children out there who are kept away from the world of education. Her strong belief is the key element that has made her able to stand up to the Taliban. During her speech, Malala asked a question that brought not only controversy but also a sense of awareness to the topic of educational rights. She had asked her audience, "How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?”

At the age of 11, most of us would be engulfed in the issues and tabloids of  pop-culture as well as the latest trends to follow up on. However, to Malala, this was the age she had first got serious in her participation towards activism. Malala Yousafzai was only 11 years old when she wrote her first BBC diary entry. “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” She started off writing anonymously, however, her identity was revealed and she became a popular teenage activist. This caused her to attend more events to give speeches on the issues she was fighting for. She became the voice of many young girls and boys out there who were unable to speak up for their own rights as humans and citizens of this world. “I speak not for myself but for those without voice... those who have fought for their rights... their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated.”

Being the voice who speaks against those in charge and those who enforce the rules comes with it’s fair share of danger and risk. On the 9th of October 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman. Our strong warrior managed to survive and recover from the attempted assassination. This tragic turn of events caused Malala to gain an even bigger support base and her incident as well as recovery received worldwide media coverage and produced an outpouring mix of sympathy and anger. “I say I am stronger than fear.” None of this caused Malala to give up or even slow down on her equal rights movement. She began attending even more events to speak up about these issues and even started up the ‘Malala Fund.’ “All I want is an education, and I am afraid of no one.”

Our warrior, Malala Yousafzai, has been awarded with multiple awards and prizes for her brave acts and commitment to the uprising of everyone’s rights for a proper source of education. The Clinton Foundation presented her with the Clinton Global Citizen Award in 2013 while the European Parliament honoured her with the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in the same year. She was also awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize along with Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. 

Malala Yousafzai, our hero, our activist, our inspiration, our peacemaker, our warrior. “Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” 


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