Malala Yousafzai at the United Nations. (Mary Altaffer/Associated Press)
Malala Yousafzai at the United Nations. (Mary Altaffer/Associated Press)

July 12 marks the 16th birthday of Malala Yousafzai, who continued her year of being a complete inspirational hero by delivering an impassioned speech at the United Nations calling for universal education. The teenager shot by the Taliban for her efforts to promote women’s education has only gained in dedication to her cause. She said, “The terrorists thought that they would change my aims and stop my ambitions. But nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”

Wow.

“We realized the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns,” she said. “The extremists were and they are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them.”

“They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them.”

The power of Malala’s voice should certainly frighten them.

The United Nations declared it Malala Day — if anyone’s earned it, she has. But she insists that it’s a day about giving a voice to the countless others whose voices haven’t been heard.

“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world,” Malala said.  “Education is the only solution. Education first.”

She’s a tremendous testament to the cause of education and speech she champions. Hearing her words, you can see why the Taliban was so fearful of a teenage girl. Hers is a powerful voice.

She’s not just impressive for a 16-year-old, she’s impressive for a human being of any age. Consider that she’s a full year younger than Bella Swan, and then go home and rethink your life.

Happy Birthday, Malala. The world’s lucky to have you!

 

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.