I consider myself a very fortunate individual to have been a participant of Malala Day hosted by the United Nations as a representative of Global Kids. Listening to Malala Yousafzai address youth who represented a multitude of nations from around the globe, including myself, was one of the most inspiring and eye opening experiences of my life. It justified the readiness of citizens from around the world to address the issue of insufficient universal education and finally show attentiveness towards young people willing to stand for change. Prior to being in attendance at Malala Day, I was skeptical of my ability and that of my peers to initiate reform regarding global education. Nevertheless, after witnessing Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown standing behind Malala that day, both physically and in spirit, it became evident that her cause was strongly supported and respected by members of the international community despite her young age.
Malala’s age throughout this entire crisis took me aback- she was merely sixteen years old and had become a vital proponent of global education who managed to put more progress into motion than most adults in the field. More importantly, she was able to invigorate the spirits of many young individuals, such as myself, who are fortunate enough to have a quality education and are aware of the opportunities that come with it. Regardless of the fact that Malala and I come from completely different sides of both the societal spectrum and the globe, in that one moment during her speech I felt connected to her. I was able to understand and feel how aggravated she was that an education was being denied to her, and I was able to empathize with the constant perpetual fear she lived in while in Pakistan. In that instant, it became clear to me that someone needed to take a stand for young people like Malala- people being denied opportunities that would allow them to enhance the quality of their lives and potentially evolve into successful, contributing members of society. Malala’s dedication and presence at the United Nations proved to me that motivated youth can make a difference and can be the driving force for change in the present day.
Aside from giving much deserved attention to Malala’s speech, I had the honor of meeting youth representatives from across the globe and listening to what brought them to Malala Day. I was so thrilled to see thousands of diverse individuals my age dedicated to the cause of promoting education. It only strengthened my precursory thoughts that our collective efforts were not in vain, because strength does in fact lie in numbers. Many organizations who are strong advocates for education were also present at the United Nations that day, and they provided with me with the resources and drive to spread word of the issue throughout my community. After Malala Day, I spoke to my peers about this issue and encouraged everyone I know to become more acquainted with global education issues and sign Malala’s petition online. In my experience, I don’t remember ever being more excited and motivated to work toward resolving an issue and finally putting an end to educational injustice in the world.
Aleksandra Srdanovic is a 16 year old student in the GLOBAL KIDS program from New York. Over the summer she is participating in the U.S. in the World: International Law and Foreign Policy Program at the COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS