Youth in the Forefront

Malala Yousafzai is the epitome of a leader. She not only embodies the traits that come along with leadership, but she also lives a life that values and teaches the importance of being a leader in the modern world. Yousafzai hails from Pakistan, but her pro-education, pro-gender equality message has reached the world in indescribable ways.

At the age of 11, she began her mission to promote fair education for girls and coming from a family who ran schools, this was clearly something she did not take lightly and was passionate about very early on in her life. Yousafzai participated in local press clubs sharing her political opinions, was outspoken on the radio, and wrote blogs and articles to major news broadcasters under a different name so that she could maintain her anonymity while getting her message across, but quickly rose to the limelight when she was interviewed for her work which was then brought to the world’s attention. Taliban militants began bombing girls’ schools and in January 2009 demanded that girls stop going to school once they reached the age of 15. On October 9, 2012, Taliban militants halted her school bus and shot her three times. One of the shots hit the side of her forehead and lodged into her shoulder, leading to complications and swelling in the brain. She remained in critical condition, but fought through to eventually become one of the greatest contemporary leaders for people of all ages, ethnicities, genders, and religions. With her father as her constant motivation, Yousafzai had the bravery and courage to continue fighting for a cause she believed in, despite almost being killed. Despite receiving constant death threats she maintained her resilience and continued fighting for her passion.

Yousafzai, in my opinion, is one of the greatest contemporary leaders because her cause has the ability to affect so many people in the world. She is taking the lead and taking the threats and attacks to fight for something, that not only she, but millions of girls in the world will benefit from. Still at the tender age of only 18 years old, Yousafzai has already received Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize in 2009, has spoken at the UN, was the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 at the age of 17, was named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World”, helped to ratify the Right to Education Bill in Pakistan, and has an honorary doctorate from University of King’s College, to name of few of her mind boggling accomplishments. Being one year older than Yousafzai, her experiences are so different than that of mine and comparing what I find I consider myself to have accomplished is so minimal to what she has already achieved . Her work and achievements make me put my life into perspective and teach me not only humility, but also make me appreciate all the things I have been gifted with. Even more so, my respect for her is endless as she continues her fight. Her message was so threatening to the Taliban that they felt in order to lessen its future impact the only thing to do was to get rid of her. Her power is shown through her courageous acts and continuous determination and the fact that an 18 year old’s words can even frighten a large terrorist group. When speaking to the UN, she said “I am not against anyone, neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. I’m here to speak up for the right of education for every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all terrorists and extremists”. Yousafzai’s maturity and intelligence makes her a role model for everyone who is willing to listen. Her message, that she does not want revenge but simply wants to right the injustices in the world, is so powerful.

Yousafzai does not care about awards and honors, all she wants is for her to continue striving for the lifelong goal she has worked towards and as a leader she has gained my utmost respect. Malala Yousafzai’s message is inspiring and a gift to the world. She truly represents age really is nothing but a number. I believe that everyone, along with myself, should support her and aid this cause that will benefit the world in the long run.