Malala: These 5 Women Make Me Feel Confident About Our Future
This International Women’s Day, we’re honored to partner with Malala Yousafzai, an fearless advocate for girls’ education around the world, as well as a 2013* Glamour *Woman of the Year. Malala is an inspiration to so many people, and today she is spotlighting the women who are inspiring her right now.
From radio stations to courthouse terraces, girls are coming forward—survivors of displacement, discrimination, violence, and harassment. They shoulder burdens well beyond their years, but they refuse to sit back and let these injustices and inequalities continue.
Fearless and headstrong, these girls are seeking solutions, driving discussions, and calling on us to listen. They are the leaders of tomorrow—and today.
Fifteen-year-old Peace Ayo from Nigeria encourages parents in her community to send their daughters to school and works to prevent teen pregnancy and early marriage. My university studies kept me from attending a recent conference on education. I asked Peace to speak on my behalf—and she was amazing.
In the United States, 18-year-old Emma Gonzalez leads the youth gun-control movement after a shooter killed 17 students at her school. I know what it’s like to face violence at school; I hope the world listens to Emma, her classmates, and thousands of survivors like them.
In Pakistan, 24-year-old Hajra Khan campaigns to reduce menstruation stigmas and increase girls’ participation in sports as captain of the national women’s football team. I’m cheering for Hajra on and off the field.
From Syria, 18-year-old Yusra Mardini competed as part of the first Olympic refugee team and now advocates for the safety and rights of refugees around the world. As children in Syria continue to suffer from bombs and hunger, young women like Yusra remind us that we cannot turn our backs on this crisis.
In Mexico, 16-year-old Sydney Gutierrez works to eliminate poverty and machismo culture by advocating for girls’ education on a local radio show. When I met Sydney in Mexico City last year, she told me she wants to be the first pediatrician in her community.
Growing up in Pakistan, I knew girls whose parents forced them to leave school to get married or work as domestic servants. At age 11, I didn’t know every detail about the law or how government budgets worked, but I did know what a girl’s life looked like without education. Armed with this knowledge, I began advocating for every girl’s right to learn and lead.
Seeing young activists like Sydney, Hajra, and Emma motivates me to continue fighting for girls’ education. On International Women’s Day, I hope that you listen to the young female leaders in your community—and add your voice to our chorus for change.
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist, student, and UN Messenger of Peace, and is the youngest person ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. At age 15, she was shot by the Taliban for speaking out against their ban on girls’ education. Malala recovered, continued her campaign and, as cofounder of Malala Fund, is building a global movement of support for 12 years of girls’ education.
Watch Malala on My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman, streaming Friday on Netflix.