“I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard,” announced Malala Yousafzai to a chamber full of students from over 100 countries during the UN’s first Youth Assembly held on July 12 at the UN headquarters in New York City.
As she spoke, a great feeling of determination began to swell inside of me. I had once felt a similar sensation when I heard His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, speak about how one can attain an awakening mind a few years ago at Madison Square Garden. However, it was only after hearing Malala speak that I then realized the amount of potential I had in myself to challenge the injustices facing the world today.
I mean, here you have a young teenager from the city of Mingora, Pakistan, who was brutally shot in the head when she boarded a school bus with a group of friends on October 9, 2012. Those who attempted to kill her knew that Malala had been utilizing social media to make others aware about what it was like living under the Taliban forces. Despite staring death straight in the face, this young and courageous girl didn’t deter from sending her message to the public. No. This horrific experience further strengthened her will to empower others to work together so that children across all borders can be granted education as a basic human right.
Thus, it is now up to us – sisters, brothers, parents, students and teachers – to use our voices to collectively make our concerns heard by our respected governments, local and national. It is up to us to join forces with other organizations that also deem education as the foundation of each and every sector of society. It is up to us to educate our peers on how privileged we are to live in a country where women are not denied their basic freedoms and hence, do not feel reluctant to work toward attaining their degrees.
And as Malala carefully put it, “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.”