September 21, 2023

Teen serves as inspiration for International Women’s Day

Chantell Cooley - Empower UMarch is Women’s History Month!

In the spirit of education and promoting the works of great women, I am going to write weekly columns about famous women this month.

I would like to start by pointing out that March 8 is International Women’s Day.  So many women across the globe have inspired us to make a difference is this world.

One such person is Malala Yousafzai.  I am so moved by this teenager who spearheaded universal education before and after her near death experience in 2012.

She is from Mingora, Pakistan and at the very young age of 11 years old, she became a strong advocate for girls to be educated.  However, she was threatened often for her belief and soon became a target of the Taliban in her area.  You see, the Tailban had banned girls from attending school in her district.

In October 2012, as she was riding home on a school bus when two men appeared in the road and stopped the bus.  As one man was talking to the driver, another man came around to the back of the bus and proceeded to find out which girl was Malala.

Immediately, he fired three shots with one hitting her on the left side under the eye and barely missing her brain.  The other two shots hit two of her friends sitting close to her.  She was rushed off to the nearby hospital.

As word spread that she might not make it, two doctors from Great Britain, who were there for a conference, were summoned and asked to help save her life. They then took her on to a top-notch hospital in the United Kingdom where they could give her better care.

She made the long journey as the doctors kept her alive organ by organ.  By some miracle, she arrived and soon got better.  Over several months and many operations, she improved and gained worldwide fame and support for her courage and strength and fight for education.

At the age of 16, Malala was asked to give a speech at the United Nations in 2013.  She has also written a book, “I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.”  She has received numerous awards and was even nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

I am so inspired and continue to be amazed at her passion for education.  Her bravery to go to school anyway when it was not safe is incredible.   She had such a desire to read and learn and still does.  I read where she competed with her girlfriends on test scores and who could read the most books.  I loved her story because of how Columbia Southern University changes lives through education.