17 and winning the Nobel Peace Prize

Anabelle Estavillo and Lydia Flores

On October 10, 2014 Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India won the Nobel Peace Prize for their continual efforts to advocate women’s equality in education. Their individual campaigns have lasted approximately five years each and at the age of 17, Yousafzai is the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner ever.

All around the world people are ensnared in a world of old ideas. India, Iraq, and Pakistan are just a few examples of societies that strongly encourage young women to marry at an early age. In these cultures arranged marriages are not uncommon and the man is usually significantly older than the bride. At times brides of 14 are used solely as a token of  peace, a mere pawn in an issue she has little to do with. After given to her stranger spouse, this bride that’s so young is expected to become a mother. All who know her hope her children are males.

These women live in a society where they are killed for making eye contact with a man and baby girls are abandoned because they were not boys. Far too many see girls as a lower class and believe they don’t even deserve an education.

Yousafzai fights to free these people. She believes that girls should get the same rights of boys, especially when it comes to education. Throughout her life, her father owned three schools near the area her family lived in and always stressed the importance of learning. In her address to the United Nations, Yousafzai said, “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”

Because of her beliefs and her voice towards educational rights for girls, Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, something that all started with an anonymous diary and a tragic gunshot.

Malala Yousafzai is a modern day hero to girls all around the world.

Rewinding to two years ago, on October 9, 2012, Yousafzai was shot for writing a diary published under a fake name. Here she shared stories of her life experience under Taliban rule. Her diary not only contained the struggle of being in north-west Pakistan but also her disbelief in the education rights of girls. In 2009, Yousafzai was one more girl that was told she could no longer go to school. Her experience is not unique as in several different countries, girls are only allowed to go to school for a few years and then drop out and get married. People suppose they don’t need an education, but should rather focus on becoming a good wife and mother. This one gunshot created not only a stronger girl but gave her a stronger motivation to fight against the laws and rights given to girls. During an interview with CNN on October 12, 2013, she said “They only shot a body but they cannot shoot my dreams”.