An open letter to Malala

Dear Malala,

Well done, you just graduated from Oxford University! As a recent graduate, two weeks ago you collected all of your personal belongings from your college just like any other normal student.

But in all honesty, you’re anything but a normal student. Your story of resilience, of fighting for what you believe in, of recovery in the face of adversity has inspired many people across the world.

Thank you for being a role model to many, you’ve already created a ripple effect on women’s rights; thank you for continuing to campaign for girls’ education, and for using your voice to empower others.

At the tender age of just 22, you’ve accepted a lot of responsibility and become a pioneer for changing women’s role and position in the world. You’ve founded the Malala Fund, an organisation that recognises 130 million girls are out of school and is doing something about it.

In the 7 years since it was founded, you have already secured $111 million from governments for education in emergencies; you’ve advocated for girls’ education in countries such as Nigeria, Brazil, Lebanon. And one of the highlights last year was when a provincial government in Pakistan allocated 70% of their budget towards girls’ education. The largest in the province’s history!

A damning report into the cost of not educating girls is enough to invoke a fear of missing out for the entire world. If every girl received an education, earnings for women could increase by 15-30 trillion worldwide, girls would lead healthier lifestyles, and they would hold decision making positions at home, at work, and in their nation.

This vision of what the world could look like if every woman were to receive an education is appealing and captivating and it all starts with a women’s ability to read and write.

Your work helps girls to receive an education without fearing for their lives, and they will grow into capable women equipped with the tools and knowledge, to lead an independent life. You’re leading by example and embodying the Malala Fund’s motto: working for a world where every girl can learn and lead.

Despite all of your responsibilities and achievements, in many ways, you are ‘normal’ and prone to procrastination just like the rest of us, admitting that you started your essays at 11pm the night before your paper was due! Your plans now are to watch Netflix, read and sleep and your status right now, as you put it, is ‘currently unemployed’. Surely though your wealth of ‘work experience’ will stand out on your resume.

Although you are technically unemployed right now, your CV is rather impressive: you are advocating for girls’ right to education and you fought for yours, but you have also been a teacher to all of us. We have learnt so much from you; as you once rightfully said, “Extremists have shown what frightens them most: a girl with a book.”  

Congratulations on graduating from one of the finest institutions in the world; there’s no doubt that we’ll continue to learn from you as you grow and lead.

Yours sincerely,

The world.

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