GBC-Education companies were given the opportunity to send a youth delegate to Malala Day at the United Nations. The following post is by Camille McGirt, a 2012 National Fellow and Pearson Prize winner for Higher Education.
On July 12, I was invited to serve as a youth delegate and representative for Pearson at the United Nations for Malala Day – an event organized in support of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative. Over 500 young leaders from around the globe joined Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot by the Taliban on her way to school, in calling for action on reaching the goal of all children, especially girls, to be in school and learning by 2015. My role as a youth delegate was an empowering experience that I will never forget.
When I was 16 years old I was a young impressionable teenager that had typical “teen desires.” I wanted to be liked among my group of peers, my clothes followed the trends in my area, and I went to school every day without my safety being compromised. Like Malala, I rode the bus to school in the mornings and afternoons. While sitting on the United Nations General Trusteeship Council floor I tried to imagine myself on a bus in Pakistan and seeing someone with a gun calling my name with intent to steal my voice, my happiness, and my life. As Malala walked in to deliver her speech I saw a brave young woman who has strong convictions. Her ability to mobilize an international movement as a sixteen year old is absolutely phenomenal. I was moved by Malala’s mere presence as I continued to try and place myself in her shoes. For many people, Malala’s experience would have silenced their voice; however Malala’s voice became amplified.
During the event orientation we gathered in small groups while our Youth Advocacy Group leaders facilitated discussion on pressing issues in our respective communities. There was a student from Tanzania who spoke about the dismal education system within his country and how his mother was illiterate. This student went on to explain that there were several instances in his life where his family could have taken advantage of so many opportunities and overcome many challenges if his mother could simply read and write. His story found a special place in my heart as I currently work to expose girls to college while educating them about nutrition, fitness, and positive relationships through my non-profit, Healthy Girls Save the World. Right now our impact resides within the United States, but there is so much that we can do globally to help girls and women reach educational equality and have safe settings where school can be a place of learning, development, and growth.
Education is the most effective way to relieve poverty and because of Malala, policy makers have ammunition to make sure that girls have equal access. It is my sincere hope that all girls are given an equal chance to explore knowledge without boundaries and be in a position to create positive impact within their communities and throughout the world because of an advantageous education.
Malala Day was a historic and unforgettable experience, and I am now encouraged to extend my platform to empower girls across the globe. We want to stand with Malala as she continues to fight for girls to be educated and to become strong contributing members to society.