Five years ago, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head for daring to go to school. This week, she attended her first lecture at Oxford University. Malala put her life at risk because she understood how important having an education is. She also understood that just because she is a girl, does not mean that she has to stay at home while her male age mates attend school. Despite Malala suffering a gunshot wound to the head, she did not give up. She continued to fight for her right and other girls’ right to an education.
October 11, 2017 is the international day of the girl child. This day is meant to address the challenges girls face while at the same time, empower them to unveil their full potential. In several cultures around the world, simply being a young girl puts one at a disadvantage. Girls are often times told they cannot excel in certain professions; that they need to stick to “jobs for women”. Additionally, there is less investment in girl child education because, often times, she is expected to be a wife and mother while she is still underage. While there is nothing wrong with being a wife and mother when one is of age, a lot of girls have other aspirations as well. It is our duty to ensure that all girls have the opportunity to fulfill their dreams and that all girls know how valuable and important their lives and dreams are. As we celebrate the 1.1 billion girls worldwide, let us remind them that they matter. This is their day. They can excel in whatever profession. No matter what circumstance they are in, they can and should dream big. To all the young girls, in the words of Lupita Nyong’o, “your dreams are valid”.