Malala Yousafzai Named UN Messenger of Peace

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Malala Yousafzai is now not only the youngest Nobel Laureate, but as of April 10, 2017 has become the United Nations’ youngest Messenger of Peace with a special focus on girls’ education.

Among those already bestowed the honor of being named a UN Messenger of Peace are prominent personalities including Yo-Yo Ma, Leonardo Dicaprio, Charlize Theron, and Muhammad Ali, who have volunteered their time, talent, and passion to advocate for the United Nations’ social justice work around the world.

In an interview with UN News following her designation, Malala gave an impassioned plea to the world:

“If we want to see our future bright, developed, if we want to make our lives better, we have to invest in girls’ education. That is crucial. We cannot ignore it. And I just sometimes wonder, why have our world leaders ignored it for so long? The thing that I have realized from my experience in 19 years, they haven’t learnt yet in their 50, 60+ years.”

While the answer to that is incalculable, it also raised the question why no country in 2017 is able to boast about achieving intersectional gender equity. Similarly, over the course of 70 years, there is yet to be a female or gender non-conforming Secretary-General of the UN – surprising, given that such a person would represent more than half the global population.

Malala has fought for girls’ education through the frontlines of terrorism and extremism since she was 10, acting as a beacon of hope for girls’ education. As Secretary-General António Guterres remarked, “You are the symbol of one of probably the most important cause in the world – education for all. And particularly – because we know it is more difficult in many societies – education for girls.”

So it seems the challenge remains not so much needing to prove why girls’ education is the crux for sustainable development and peace, but addressing the root causes and biases as to why this isn’t being universally protected in the first place. As Malala’s father famously said, “You don’t need to do something extra for women – just don’t clip their wings, and let them fly.”

Words by Ginger Ging-Dwan Boyd