On Friday, Malala Yousefzai, Pakistan's most famous child activist, will give a speech at the UN. That day is also her 16th birthday, and will mark — as some are calling it — the "first UN youth takeover" in all of history.
Malala, along with 650 other children, will present a petition to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, urging the world leaders to enroll children in school. About 57 million children still don't have access to education. Her goal is to push that number to zero by December 2015.
Malala issued a statement saying, "On 15 June, fourteen girls were murdered in Pakistan simply because they wanted an education. Many people know my story but there are stories every day of children fighting for an education. "
Malala was almost killed herself. Back in October 2012, a Taliban member entered her school bus as she rode home from an exam and shot Malala in the head. Only 15 years old, she's been a controversial figure for years now. Malala began advocating for education equality at age 12. The BBC published her (anonymous) blog "Diary of a Pakistani School Girl" back in 2009, where she recounted the trials and tribulations of life under the Taliban's rule, most especially their edict that girls were not allowed to go to school.
Perhaps the most striking thing about Malala is the eloquence with which she approached her writing. On January 7, 2009, she wrote:
"I have come to Bunair to spend Muharram (a Muslim holiday) on vacation. I adore Bunair because of its mountains and lush green fields. My Swat is also very beautiful but there is no peace. But in Bunair there is peace and tranquillity. Neither is there any firing nor any fear. We all are very happy."
A young mind which exhibits such clarity is a gem, if not more. It is no wonder Malala's fame skyrocketed. The New York Times filmed a documentary on her life. She assumed leadership positions in her region and even became the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Had she died that fateful October day from the gunshot wound, Malala's name might have become muddled in with the Taliban's countless victims. She might have been lost in time. But Malala survived. The bullet shattered her skull, but left her with no brain damage. And since she left her hospital bed in Birmingham, England she has hit the ground running with her activism.
Malala even started an online petition where all can sign and support her cause. She wants to become a doctor one day.
After the attack Malala told reporters, "I became a victim of terrorism after I spoke out in favor of education of girls. If we want to bring change, if we want progress, if we want development, if we want the education of girls, we should be united. We should not wait. We should do it now."
Yes, we should.