Activism is Beautiful: Malala Yousafzai Turns 18


Malala Yousafzai is not well known for her sense of fashion or what she wears on the red carpet. The teen who turned 18 on July 12th was not looking for the latest version of the iPad or a new makeup palette from M.A.C., instead she was busy opening a school in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. The school is for the young refugees, who are casualties of the Syrian civil war.

Malala Yousafzai has taken on some huge and very lofty pursuits for such a young person. She seems to have mastered the noble virtue of giving to those in dire ne, and left the natural self-centered lifestyle that affects many teens, to others.

Now that Malala has turned 18, many people wonder if she will continue her life of activism or if she has a few other dreams she wants to follow instead. This would be the normal course of growing up as a young woman, so no one could fault her for wanting to leave the war-torn areas behind

But Malala recently told the BBC, “My voice does not depend on my age, it depends on the work that I do and the campaign that I do,”. She believes that with her moving into, what others consider real adulthood, that it will only help to further her message of worldwide education.

From the school in Lebanon, Malala also shared with the BBC this thought, “So being here with the children in Lebanon, with the refugees, it makes my voice more powerful.”

photo courtesy of Jamal Saidi/Reuters

Malala’s life of activism began at age 11, when many young girls are sitting in front of their laptops surfing the internet, she was writing a blog for the BBC on how difficult it was for a Northern Pakastani girl who desired to be educated to actually gain that education. Malala is from another world than many of the young women we know; a world with other concerns.

Unfortunately, the incident that brought Malala global fame beyond her writings for the BBC, was being shot by the Taliban while walking to school one day in 2012. Fortunately for Malala, and the girls she now helps, the shot wasn’t fatal, and ended up propelling her into the role of advocate for the human rights of girls. Shortly after the attack, she gave an unforgettable speech at the United Nations, which led to the declaring of July 12th, her birthday, as Malala Day.

On her sixteenth birthday, I Am Malala, her memoir was released and became an international bestseller. Malala would be the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in 2014 at the age of 17.

Having achieved so much in so little time on the planet, let us hope that Malala Yousafzai can always be an inspiration to all if us, not just teens. So that we can simply do what our hearts tell us to do, to find our real place in the world.

This young activist has realized a wisdom many are still trying to learn and live by, that in childhood we know how to dream and dreaming is natural. Malala says that she will take this truth with her into her adulthood, to dream. to dream big, and to aim higher.