Open letter to Malala Yousafzai

Dear Malala,

Courageous, inspiring, dedicated…these words, among others, are not strong enough to adequately describe your spirit.

I have never known what it feels like to be denied an education. Never known the feeling of fear caused by those who do not want me to succeed because I am a woman. I will admit that the value of education has sometimes been lost on me. The amount of times I have uttered the words “When am I ever going to use this?” or “This is pointless.”

After watching you actively fight for the rights of your fellow women to receive what I have always had, it is suffice to say that I am ashamed.

I woke up last Friday morning to a dark sky. I was exhausted, and the commute to school did not seem appeasing to me in the slightest. However, Friday was International Day of the Girl, and it was also the day that the Nobel Peace Prize winner was to be announced. The night before, I had watched your interview with Jon Stewart. Your passion, dedication and absolute resilience radiated through my computer screen. One thing was certain, I had absolutely no complaints about making it to my early morning university class the next day.

While I was rooting for you to win the Nobel Peace Prize, I am not as upset as I thought I would be that you did not win. People reading this will probably raise their eyebrows at that statement, but the reason I say this is because I believe you don’t need a prize to draw attention to your message. Your courage, intelligence and wisdom beyond your years has been heard and seen loud and clear. This will not be the only time you are nominated.

The sight of women and young girls being denied the most powerful weapon one could possess—an education—makes me furious. I find myself seething with anger. I’ve had conversations with people about the horrible thoughts we’ve had about how to punish those who rob these rights and freedoms, and I would expect you to be the angriest of them all. These men actively tried to silence you and deprive the world of your intelligence.

But then, I see that you are not angry. Your words on the Daily Show are stuck in my mind, and they have kept playing over and over for the past few days. When asked how you would react to an attack by the Taliban, you said you would explain your message to them, and would not fight. “You must not treat others with that much cruelty and that much harshly […] you must fight others, but through peace and through dialogue and through education.”

That left me speechless.

You are the kind of wise, forward thinking young woman the world needs right now. The amount of pressure you must feel is something I cannot even begin to imagine.

We stand with you Malala. Your work has just begun, and I am so excited to see what you have in store as you grow older, continue your activism, and continue to empower women. The most I can do right now is make sure to let everyone know of the work that you do, and most of all of the message you are fighting to share. You are a true inspiration, and I strongly believe your words and actions will spark change in our world.

As Jon Stewart said during your interview with him, “I don’t know where you came from, but I sure am glad you’re here.”

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