The U.N. has declared today Malala Day in honour of Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban in October for her advocacy of education for girls. It stuns me to think that in the twenty-first century, there are still people with this kind of archaic mindset, but Malala has dared to speak out while her country’s government and world leaders have not.
I’m not going to go on a rant here. I’m an eternal optimist, and I’m hoping that Malala’s courage and clear vision will inspire a lot of people to action. I’m hoping Malala Day becomes a movement.
No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. We can give to charities that target girls and women, like Foster Parents Plan’s ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign or ‘The Girl Effect’, charities that use microfinancing strategies – putting small amounts of money to use where they will do the most good – to help girls and women around the world. I’ve been a Plan sponsor for years, and it costs less than a coffee per day.
We can volunteer with organizations like Girl Guides/Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls clubs, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters. Helpers and mentors are always needed. We can encourage the girls we know to volunteer in the community, too. Feeling needed and valuable is a big part of empowerment.
We can educate ourselves about womens’ issues around the world. Yes, the facts are rather grim, but the good news is that we know the answer: Education. Plain and simple.
Malala knows it, too. That’s why the Taliban fear her, and girls like her, more than anything else.