Tuesday, May 2, 2017

SRPS Role Model: Malala Yousafzai

“I know where I stand. If you stand with me, I ask you to seize every opportunity for girls’ education in the next year... We should not ask children to flee their homes to also give up their dreams, and we must recognize that young refugees are future leaders on whom we all depend for peace.”
Last month Malala Yousafzai become only the sixth person, and the youngest, to receive honorary Canadian citizenship, a title conferred on "foreigners of exceptional merit." Malala certainly qualifies as a young woman of exceptional merit! Through her bravery and dogged determination, she is actively creating a better world by advocating for girls' right to education worldwide, and is currently serving as a UN Messenger of Peace.

Most people have already heard Malala's story of being an 11 year old blogger for the BBC sharing stories about her life as a girl under Taliban occupation. In particular, she was outspoken about the need for education for girls, which had been banned. Although her identity was kept secret, the Taliban eventually discovered who she was and targeted her in an attempt to silence her. And they almost succeeded. Her shooting injuries were quite severe, but she was airlifted to the UK where she was able to receive extensive medical care.

The attempt on her life emboldened this brilliant and brave young woman. With her best-selling book, I am Malala [Amazon/Library], and the non-profit Malala Fund, she has made it a point to use her public platform to continue the call for at least 12 years of schooling for all girls around the world.

Prime minister Trudeau echoed the thoughts of many of her supporters in his speech at the ceremony. "Malala, your story is an inspiration to us all. For bravely lending your voice to so many, we thank you."

It is her remarkable bravery and her dedication to such an important cause that makes her a Self-Rescuing Princess Society role model. Young people around the world can see her and find inspiration to speak up and take action. Like Canadian student Sabina Haque said at an event prior to the ceremony, "It’s really nice to have someone like Malala — a young women, a woman of colour from a community where she was undermined for her gender — be able to rise above and stand up for girls and education."

The ceremony was held on April 12, 2017, in the Canadian House of Commons, where prime minister Trudeau presented her with a certificate of honorary citizenship and a Canadian flag. It had originally been slated for 2014, the same year she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but had to be postponed because of a tragic shooting of a soldier in Ottawa.

You can read more about the official ceremony in the Al Jazeera story: Malala Yousafzai made an honorary Canadian citizen

You can read about the reception she received in Ottawa in the National Observer story: Greeted by screaming fans, Malala Yousafzai becomes a Canadian

You can learn more about her by watching He Named Me Malala [Amazon]

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