On a fateful day in the fall of 2012, the Taliban shot a young Pakistani girl in the head while she was riding a school bus. The girl was targeted because she advocated for a female’s right to an education. Driven, rather than silenced, the girl continues to pursue an education for herself and millions of others like her, today. The girl is now an internationally recognized name, Malala Yousafzai.
While recovering in the hospital, an ally of her cause flew abroad to sit by her side: Shiza Shahid. Ms. Shahid, a Stanford graduate, became a chief strategist and voice for Malala’s advocacy in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. Together, they established The Malala Fund to empower girls to reach their full potential through safe access to an education. They have received $400,000 in grants from the World Bank and from Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt to continue their work.
Both Ms. Shahid and Ms. Yousafzai were recognized on Forbes’ list of 30 Under 30 who are changing the world. Although Malala is still just a teenager, she has spoken at the United Nations, written a book and become an even more fervent activist for women’s education since her recovery. Shiza continues to be the driving force behind the day-to-day operations of the Malala Fund and prioritizing Malala’s safety.
[pullquote2 align=”right”]“I think of it often and imagine the scene clearly. Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right.” – Malala [/pullquote2]
Recently, the Malala Fund has been active in advocating for the education of refugee children, not just girls, particularly as related to the increasingly devastating conflict in Syria. Thousands of refugees have crossed into neighboring countries, with little or no access to schooling. Syrian school attendance rate used to be upwards of 95 percent, but since the conflict erupted in 2011 that rate has plummeted to as low as 6 percent in some areas.
StayClassy congratulates Ms. Yousafzai, Ms. Shahid and the entire Malala Fund team for the recognition of their efforts and is proud to be a partner.
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Image Credit: UN Women