Empowering women is at the heart of what we do at Women at the Center; so when we heard that Ms. Malala Yousafzai became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate, earlier this month, we shared her feelings of hope and encouragement. Not only is Malala a woman, but also she is a young woman and right now it seems that she is unstoppable! At the age of 11, Malala, started to amplify her voice and began blogging so that girls in Pakistan could have the right to a quality education. In 2012, Malala was shot by a Taliban gunman because of her activism and effort to empower young women. Since then she has made a remarkable recovery, has written a memoir, “I am Malala”, and has created the Malala Fund, which supports girls’ education around the world. The fund also supports local leaders and social entrepreneurs in rural places around the world, whose efforts effect education and women’s empowerment.
This recognition of Malala and her work is happening at a perfect time; we see this as another opportunity to make it clear that women’s and girl’s empowerment should be at the center of the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals. We also see that this is yet another opportunity to promote integrated community development. Last week we wrote a blog on how combining health, education, conservation, and resource management is more effective than addressing these issues separately: “When these issues are integrated, parents are better empowered to plan and care for their families, food security is improved, women are empowered and ecosystems are protected”. I don’t think it’s a far stretch to say that when a woman becomes educated she will make smarter choices about her sexual and reproductive health and the ripple effect of those choices can be huge. That said, power to your mission, Malala, Women at the Center supports you!