The Malala Fund: Giving Girls ‘the Voice’ to Change Their Circumstances

[ 0 ] May 12, 2014 |

Shiza Shahid believes in giving “more girls the bravery, the courage, and the voice” to stand up for education, and fighting for what is still “a tricky issue” around the world. The Malala Fund, founded by Shahid, has recently provided $10 million towards women’s education in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Malala Fund is the official organization led by Malala Yousafzai, focused on giving a voice to women and girls everywhere for the right to education. Malala, who is 15 years old, inspired the world when, last October, she survived being shot in the head by the Taliban on her way to school in Pakistan; she was known for speaking out in support of the right for girls to go to school in the Swat Valley, where the Taliban had banned school for girls. The Malala Fund focuses on giving a voice to women and girls everywhere for the right to education.

Watch Shiza Shahid share with genConnect the goals for the Malala Fund, how Malala Yousafzai is an inspiration and “the voice” for women and girls everywhere, and why there are still so many barriers to education – particularly for girls – in countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the world:

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Malala is now known for being an education and women’s rights activist. In early 2009, at the age of 11–12, she wrote a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC, shedding light on life under Taliban rule, their attempts to take control of the valley, and her views on promoting education for girls. The next summer, a New York Times documentary was filmed about her life as the Pakistani military intervened in the region, culminating in battle. Malala became a media darling for being such a strong advocate, and was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by South African activist Desmond Tutu.

Shahid, who is also a business analyst at McKinsey & Company in the Middle East, first reached out to Malala when the girl was 10 years old, already speaking out for education for girls on her blog, “The Diary of a Pakistani School Girl.” After Malala was shot in 2012, Shahid vowed to help Malala prevent the same thing from happening to other girls like her, and “give a voice” to young women everywhere who want an education. Shahid “believes in the power of mentoring entrepreneurs and activists,” she said, adding, “this is what she [Malala] wanted to do, empower those from within their communities to bring change.”

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In Pakistan, education is currently denied to 61 million primary school-aged children, of which 32 million are girls.  Fighting those numbers is no small battle. “It’s a tricky issue,” Shihad said. “It’s rooted in age-old cultural practices that discriminate women. In places like Pakistan, it’s further exacerbated by the war, the terrorism, the violence, and the breakdown of the state. And women are paying the highest price.”

Shahid insists women’s education is imperative for women to overcome persecution and discrimination. “An education promises to give more girls the bravery, the courage, and the voice that Mahala has so that they can change their circumstances.”

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Shiza-Shahid

Shiza Shahid and Malala

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari recently announced that up to 70 percent of the $10 million dollars the Malala Fund has raised will be used in Pakistan (beginning with Malala’s hometown), whereas the remainder will be dispersed in Afghanistan in partnership with UNESCO. Pakistan and UNESCO signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) to confirm the agreement. On July 23, Qian Tang, assistant secretary general of UNESCO met with Minister of State for Education, Trainings and Standards in Higher Education Balighur Rehman to discuss the details of the fund.

The Malala Fund is on its way to influencing girls and women everywhere, with Malala’s personal story inspiring countless more.

We will inspire girls to be brave, to be confident, to embrace their potential, and to become the leaders I believe women can be,” Shahid says.

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About Shiza Shahid: Shiza Shahid is co-founder and director of the Malala Fund, the organization set up by the young Pakistani activist shot by the Taliban for her campaign for girls’ education. The fund supports education innovators and [...]
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