“Today on my first day as an adult, on behalf of the world’s children, I demand of leaders – we must invest in books instead of bullets.”

It is not unusual to be in awe of a peer, but our admiration for Malala Yousafzai runs a lot deeper than twinges of Instagram jealousy. Most 18 year-olds go clubbing and get brand new cars for their birthdays, they don’t open schools for displaced communities and donate $50,000 to educate children in Gaza.

Malala, the youngest ever Nobel laureate, is living proof that obstacles can be overcome. As a young girl in Pakistan, she was targeted by the Taliban in 2o12 because of her tireless campaign for girls’ education. Not even being shot in the head stopped her.

Malala celebrated her 16th birthday in style, giving an address to the United Nations General Assembly. Her 18th birthday celebrations, typically, did not disappoint, with the Malala Fund continuing to impact communities and empower women by providing young girls & women with quality secondary education.

She opened a school for Syrian girls in a Refugee Camp in Lebanon. The school will serve more than 200 Syrian girls between the ages of 14 and 18. According to NPR, the new school’s curriculum will enable students to receive their baccalaureate or vocational degrees through the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education or the Syrian equivalent

This school comes with a message aimed at the world’s leaders. In her speech (quoted in Quartz), Malala called upon world leaders to drastically improve the educational standards for young Syrians, reminding us all of the fact that only 1 in 5 Syrian children receive an education.

Moreover, the $50,000 that she donated will go through the UN and will help rebuild 65 schools on occupied Palestinian territory.

This young woman is many things – an education campaigner, an advocate for the rights of women, and an excellent role model, setting an example herself by excelling in her General Certificate of Secondary Education with straight As—including six scored at the top of the scale as A*. What is often overlooked, however, is that Malala gives voice to minorities, and tirelessly works to better their communities.

 

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