Survivor of Taliban attack graduates with honors

No one should have their education stripped away from them, not even at the hands of a bullet — that’s what this recent graduate is teaching the world.

According to HuffPost, 28-year-old Breshna Musazai of Afghanistan recently received her completed her studies in law last month from American University in Kabul, all “after she was shot twice in the leg by Taliban insurgents who are opposed to education for women.”‘

Attending high school and college in Pakistan, HuffPost says Musazai and her family returned to Afghanistan in 2011, the year she began her law studies at American University; but in 2016, Taliban fighters attacked the campus. Huffpost reports that because her right leg was crippled from polio, Taliban fighters shot her twice in her left leg, leaving her to play dead for hours until responders secured the scene; a total of 13 people were killed in the invasion.

Musazai went on to the United States to receive medical treatment, and HuffPost says she later returned to school in a wheelchair, proving her strength and her ability to rise above her circumstances.

“When I was a disabled child, I always thought that I was nothing. Now when I see people who say they are inspired by me, I feel so strong,” Musazai told Women in the World, according to HuffPost. “I want them to know that their support makes me want to do more. It also feels so good to see people using my story to support women’s education.”

Now armed with a degree and the admiration of countless around the world, HuffPost says Musazai wants to make sure the Taliban knows exactly what they’re up against.

“I want to tell [them] that they can try to kill as many of us as they can, but that doesn’t mean we will stop fighting them,” she said. “I am going to continue to work and struggle.”

Malala brings ‘girl power’ to Iraq on her 20th birthday

Malala Yousafzai is known globally as the single most powerful voice in the fight for securing education for girls around the world. And even on her birthday, the young advocate used her day to focus on giving the gift of education to girls in Iraq.

According to HuffPost, Yousafzai spent her 20th birthday on July 12 — also known as “Malala Day” — by speaking to girls at Iraq’s Hassan Shami camp for the displaced, located just outside of Mosul. The visit, HuffPost reports, is part of her “Girl Power Trip,” which aims at “promoting education for women and girls around the world.”

During her time at the camp, HuffPost says Yousafzai met with girls living under the Islamic State and heard their stories, one of which she documented in a blog post. Meeting with a 13-year-old Iraqi girl named Nayir, Yousafzai wrote that despite having fled Mosul, the young scholar has maintained her determination when it comes to attaining an education.

“‘No matter what, nothing will keep me from finishing my studies,'” she told me. Her new classroom is a small tent in the camp. She just took her exams in sweltering heat,” Yousafzai wrote of her conversation with Nayir.


Driving home the importance of education, Yousafzai shared another snippet of her meeting with Nayir:
“But Nayir knows that education is her best chance for a better future. After all she has suffered, she described the feeling of returning to school: ‘It was as if all my hopes came back.'”
Here’s hoping countless girls around the world find their hopes return to them through education.

Yousafzai brings advocacy to social media

While Malala Yousafzai officially completed her last day of secondary school, the 19-year-old education advocate is far from finished in her fight to secure education for girls around the world.

In fact, BBC reports that to mark her last official day as a high schooler on July 7, Yousafzai sent her first-ever tweet from her account to share a message on education and her future pursuits in advocating for education worldwide.

“I know that millions of girls around the world are out of school and may never get the opportunity to complete their education,” she wrote in a thread of six tweets, says BBC. “Next week, I will be back on my to meet girls in Middle East, Africa & Latin America.”

Completing her thread by reaffirming the power of girls’ voices as “our most powerful weapons in the fight for education and equality,” BBC says Yousafzai asked her more than 200,000 followers to join her in her efforts for education.

“On and off Twitter, I’m fighting for girls —  will you join me?​”

We surely will, Malala.

A ‘Mighty’ Makeover

Television, movies and advertisements are often cited as factors that influence the self-esteems of young girls throughout the world. Some even say that the toys girls play with as they’re growing up also contribute to the image they form of their bodies, as well as the image the construct of women’s roles in the world today. And artist Wendy Tsao is working to change the perception girls receive from their toys one doll at a time.

Cue the Mighty Dolls project, an endeavor which the Huffington Post says takes Bratz dolls and transforms them into inspirational female figures. To do this, Tsao “removes Bratz dolls’ makeup and repaints them” to resemble her muses, who range from J.K Rowling to Malala Yousafzai to Jane Goodall.

Tsao explained to the Huffington Post that artist Sonja Singh, who “upcycles” and give a “make-under” to dolls for Tree Change Dolls, inspired her work.

Sharing that she has been “overwhelmed” by the response to her dolls, Tsao said that people are passionate about her project: “Many people feel strongly about these dolls and what they represent.”

And rightfully so. Thank you, Wendy Tsao, for reconstructing the image of what women are and what they can be for young girls all over the world.

A Gift to Others

When most 18-year-olds receive gifts on their birthdays, Malala Yousafzai used her birthday to give to other girls her age. And she didn’t just give any gift, she gave the gift she treasures most — the gift of education.

NPR reports that Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban while returning home from school in 2012, celebrated her 18th birthday on Sunday by opening a secondary school in Bekaa Valley, Lebanon. According to the Malala Fund, the school, located near the Syrian border, will serve 200 Syrian refugee girls between the ages of 14 and 18.

NPR reports that the Malala Fund’s blog explains how the new school will work, saying “‘the new curriculum will enable students to receive their baccalaureate or vocational degrees through the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education or the Syrian equivalent,'” while those who cannot commit to the four-year program can enroll in “‘skills courses intended to help them find work and generate their own incomes.'”

A fierce education advocate, Yousafzai vowed to continue her fight for girls’ education into her adult life, saying last week at Oslo’s education summit that “‘As an adult, you can be the voice of children.'”

Malala, you are the definition of inspiring.

Dressed for Others’ Success

An 18-year-old British Columbia teen’s graduation dress is going viral, and not for the reasons you might think.

According to an interview with Yahoo’s Nora Crotty, Erinne Paisley crafted a dress for her high school graduation out of her old precalculus homework after one of her friends made similar a dress out of newspaper a few years prior. But Paisley’s dress had a special message written across the skirt: Paisley wrote “I received my education. Not every woman has that right.” In addition to this, Paisley inscribed “MALALA.ORG” along the ‘hemline’ of the skirt in support of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teen who was attacked by members of the Taliban and has become a well-known advocate for women’s education and advancement.

In her interview with Yahoo, Paisley says that she was inspired by Malala after hearing her speak at We Day UK, a “rally to help inspire young people to contribute to global change.” Once Paisley crafted her dress incorporating Malala’s message of support for women’s education, Paisley says she donated the money she would have spent on a graduation dress ($250, according to Yahoo) to the Malala Fund. In addition to this, Paisley auctioned off her dress online to benefit the fund, receiving bids as high $550.

Paisley told Yahoo that the response to her dress has been “‘amazing,'” saying, “‘I’ve gotten a lot of comments from people saying they are going to donate, or that [I’m bringing attention to] this issue that they’ve never paid much attention to. It’s been absolutely amazing to hear.'”

Erinne Paisley, you are certainly living an inspired life!