Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. – Nelson Mandela
Today marks the second annual Malala Day. Malala Yousafzai and two of her classmates were shot by Taliban gunman on their way to school in Pakistan in October 2012 (for being girls and for wanting to get an education). After surviving the traumatic encounter, Malala did not fear school, but instead has become a global icon for promoting pacifism and everyone’s right to education.
Malala says that the extremists fear the power of education, and courageously asks, “Let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism. Let us pick up our books and our pens, and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.”
UNFPA reminds us of the far-reaching effects of educating girls. Education for girls is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty. Not only does education create opportunities for individuals, educating a girl improves her family’s opportunities and health outcomes for generations. An educated women can secure resources for her family, access to education for her children, and is less likely to have unintended births. Educating girls also generates positive social and economic development.
According to the Population Reference Bureau, “education contributes directly to the growth of national income by improving the productive capacities of the labor force.” A study of 19 developing countries found that a country’s long-term economic growth increases “by 3.7 percent for every year the adult population’s average level of schooling rises.”
This Malala Day, Malala does not want us to forget that we are stronger than those who threaten the right to education. Stand with Malala and the others who are fighting for women’s education by tweeting that you are #StrongerThan.
Meet other girls like Malala who are fighting for their right to education from around the globe here:
To learn more about the importance of educating girls, watch the following TED Talks:
- Kavita Ramdas: Radical women embracing tradition
- Sheryl Wudunn: Our century’s greatest injustice
- Kakenya Ntaiya: A girl who demanded school
- Shabana Basij-Rasikh: Dare to educate Afghan girls
- Ziauddin Yousafzai: My daughter, Malala
Visit these organization’s websites to learn about how they are working toward improving education for women and girls:
Featured image courtesy of Flickr user Michael Volpicelli