Why This Young Woman Spent Her Birthday Fighting for Girls’ Education in Iraq
While many of us celebrate our birthdays with a big bash, or at a fancy restaurant with friends, to commemorate another year wiser, one young Pakistani woman took a more noble approach to acknowledge her special day.
As a part of her Girl Power Trip, a journey across three continents to meet with girls in various countries to fight for their rights to an education, Malala Yousafzai took her mission to Iraq for her 20th birthday on Tuesday.
During her visit, Yousafzai went to an IDP (internally displaced person) camp for Mosul evacuees, and talked to girls about the hardships they’ve experienced as a result of the ISIS conflict. Many of these young ladies were forced to leave school because of violence and fear. Nearly half of the IDP kid population in the country, or 355,000 children, are out of the classroom.
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That startling figure includes 13-year-old Nayir, who missed three years of school before her family fled to Mosul. Today, she’s back in the classroom, and told Yousafzai that nothing will keep her away from her studies going forward.
Yousafzai had a similar experience as Nayir. “My family was in the same situation in Pakistan as so many IDPs in Iraq and all over the world,” she said. “We should not ask children forced to flee their homes to also give up their education and their dreams.”
She continued: “For me, the most important thing is talking to other people, learning from them, and speaking out for what you believe in."
However, some of Yousafzai’s trip was more lighthearted. After her initial meetings, she was able to let loose at a local amusement park with her new friends. The girls spent the afternoon, like any normal teenagers would, eating cotton candy and having a blast on rides.
Keep up the good work, Malala!