Yesterday was the International Day of the Girl. Fitting, given that earlier this week, a 14-year-old Pakistani girl named Malala Yousufzai was shot by Taliban fighters for being an advocate for the education of girls.
Going to school–and encouraging other girls to go to school–that was her crime.
Striving to be something more than a man’s property and being brave enough to advocate for other young girls, that’s what earned her a bullet in the neck. Unthinkable.
Doctors are optimistic that Malala will survive, but the impact of her injuries is unknown. Some believe that the bullet may literally have silenced her. But given the protests happening against the Taliban as a result of her near-murder, I don’t think they have killed her voice.
There are many brave people championing the right of education for girls. One of those people, Razia Jan–who provides free education to over 300 girls despite the constant threat of violence–is nominated for CNN’s Hero of the Year. If she wins, she’ll receive $50,000 for her charity. So, while it may be a largely symbolic gesture, you can vote for her here. (You can vote up to ten times per day.)
Want to contribute further? You can donate to Razia’s school, the Zabuli Education Center, online. Even if all you can donate is $10, I would encourage you to do so.
If you’d like to support young women and girls here in D.C., The Society for Girls specializes in mentoring tweens, a critical age for young women. Volunteer Match can help you find opportunities in your area. And if you are a senior Hill Staffer who wants to mentor younger staff in their professional careers, the Women’s Congressional Staff Association is a great place to start.
Americans talk a lot about girl power. We stitch the phrase on pillows, we emboss it on t-shirts and we listen to songs about it. But girl power isn’t just some slogan, it’s the idea that we should be empowering young women to strive for and achieve their goals for the betterment of themselves and the global community.
So if you have a few dollars in your pocket or some free time that you’re willing to donate, just don’t talk about girl power, live it.