Dedicated to bringing education to every child across the globe, the Malala Fund is a beacon of hope for millions of people worldwide. Yet the woman who inspired it had to overcome violence and life-threatening injury in order to spread her message.
A Young Heroine
Born in Mingora, Pakistan in 1997, Malala Yousafzai was raised in a family that understood the importance of education. Her father, the poet Ziauddin Yousafzai, ran a public school and was a leading educational advocate. When she was only 12 years old, Malala began writing an anonymous blog for the BBC, in which she told the world what life was like for young girls living under the threat of the Taliban regime. As the Taliban took over the district, they began to take away basic freedoms for women, including the right to an education. Soon Malala and her father, who were outspoken in their condemnation of these new laws, were receiving death threats, which targeted Malala in particular.
From Tragedy to Triumph
In 2011, Malala received Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize, and was nominated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu to receive the International Children’s Peace Prize. The following year, a masked gunman boarded her school bus and shot her in the head, neck, and shoulder. Although in critical condition, Malala miraculously survived the attack and was moved to England for further treatment. After her release from the hospital months later, she and her endangered family relocated temporarily to the West Midlands of the UK. As word of the assassination attempt spread, more than two million people worldwide signed a petition, which eventually led to Pakistan’s first-ever Right to Education bill.
The Malala Fund
Since her recovery, Malala has become a global advocate for the millions of girls and women around the world who are denied the right to a formal education. The Malala Fund, a nonprofit organization created by Malala and her father, empowers and encourages girls and women everywhere to raise their voices and demand change. Over the past several years, Malala has been recognized on a global level for her services to humanity. She has pledged to raise $500 million toward providing education for the 300,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon. In addition, the young social entrepreneur has helped hundreds cross the border from war-torn Syria into Jordan. In October 2014, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded Malala the peace prize, making her the youngest-ever Nobel prize winner.
The Malala Fund’s co-founder and CEO is Shiza Shahid, a Stanford graduate and social entrepreneur from Pakistan. She was working for the McKinsey consulting firm when former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown asked her to chair Malala’s new organization. She was recently named on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list of social entrepreneurs, and she was a participant in this year’s Forbes Women’s Summit. Watch what she had to say.
While the Malala Fund focuses on helping children in Pakistan, Nigeria, Jordan, and Kenya, its impact for good has resonated on a global scale. For future women entrepreneurs and women leaders around the world, the Malala Fund is creating untold opportunities, so that the next generation will be free to unlock their potential.
Written by Ashford University staff
Photo credit: “Malala Yousafzai at Girl Summit 2014-cropped” by Russell Watkins/Department for International Development – https://www.flickr.com/photos/dfid/14714344864/. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons