My Leadership and Mentoring Assignment

A Leader that Inspires Me: Malala Yousafzai

In October 2012, the Taliban shot a 15-year old girl named Malala Yousafzai on her way to school. When she was 11 years old, Malala wrote a diary under a pseudonym (Gul Makai) in which she discussed life and specifically education under the Taliban. This diary was published by the BBC. If her identity was ever revealed it was obvious that she would suffer grave consequences. Yet she continued to write and educate other individuals about the conditions in Pakistan.

The United Nations declared Friday, July 12 Malala Day in honor of this inspirational young girl and in order to commemorate her 16th birthday. She celebrated this day by making her first public appearance and delivering a speech to the UN Youth Assembly, which only emphasised the many ways that she has changed the world at such a young age.

She has shown us that there is no age limit to stand up against injustice. Malala has been sharing her diaries with BBC since she was 11 and celebrated her 16th birthday speaking at the UN about a cause she believes in. Because of her remarkable story, in February 2013 she was the youngest individual to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

So many children take the simple action of going to school for granted on a daily basis. Malala’s story and her fight to attend school has reminded everyone, children and adults alike, to not take anything for granted in our lives.

Malala has sparked a dialogue about children’s education throughout the world. Millions of people have signed the Malala petition urging the UN to recommit to Millennium Development Goal 2 which involves the universal primary education for all children around the world. She has challenged us all to wage a war…against illiteracy and terrorism by “picking up our books and pens.” Inspired by leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi, Malala has resorted to peaceful solutions in order to tackle the issues of girls’ education and the equality of women.

Three characteristics that make Malala a good leader:

  1. Compassion – She has taught us all about forgiveness. One of the most moving moments of her speech was when she said, “I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me. I would not shoot him.”
  2. Fearless/Brave/Inspiring – In the face of real danger she fought for what she believed in and even after being shot in the face at point blank range continues to do so.
  3. Visionary – The Malala Fund has been established in order to ensure that beyond the words of her speech, tangible results are reached in the fight for access to education.
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