By Amber Belus
Malala, who some call “the bravest girl in the world,” is a Pakistani education and women’s rights advocate who was shot by the Taliban on October 9, 2012. They came on her school bus, attacking her and her friends in hopes that they would be silenced.
Malala Day was the first time the teen has spoken publicly since she was attacked. Her speech proved that nothing could stop her fight for education for girls all over the world.
“The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions,” she explained, “but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. My dreams are the same.”
Malala is now stronger than ever and will not rest until every child everywhere is enrolled in school. She hopes that with the help from all of us this goal could become a reality by 2015.
Hundreds of youth representatives from all over the world were chosen to attend, and I had the honor of representing MTV Act. From the speeches to breakout sessions, I was moved and empowered by the day’s events. It definitely put things into perspective for me, and I now pledge to fight for every child’s right to receive a quality education.
Here were my favorite parts of Malala Day:
+ Girl Rising
We were shown a documentary, “Girl Rising,” the story of nine women’s lives in foreign countries and their battles for quality education. In other countries, women don’t always have the chance to go to school because they are married off at a very young age, or in some cases sold to provide income for their families. Some girls had to travel a great distance in order to get to school every day, while others had to live on the streets and risk their family and personal lives in order to attend school. It was produced by the girl’s education campaign 10×10 and opened our eyes as to how difficult the struggle can be.
+ Access to Education
I was able to stay after the conference was over to do breakout sessions with the rest of the youth delegates, where I met some of the brightest young minds. In my favorite session, “Access to Education,” I spoke with people from Jamaica, the Middle East and parts of Africa about how we’re going to take action in our communities. We came up with scholarship ideas to inspire youth to do what they love and get involved with extracurriculars. We felt music or sports would be a great way for them to express themselves and keep them away from full-time work or premature marriage. Finally, our stretch goal was to find a way to provide free education for everyone, so regardless of circumstance, every child has access to a quality education.
+ Singing Happy Birthday
Finally, what I felt was the most powerful moment was when all UN delegates, youth reps and reporters stood up and sang “Happy Birthday” to Malala in unison. It was no secret how much positive energy was flowing through the room while this happened; there were many tears, smiles and a sense of pride, too. It was clear that everyone had the same goal at that time, and that was to support Malala and put education first.
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