I am MalalaI've never been a big reader. If I did pick up a book it was usually filled with wizards, vampires, or a quirky shopaholic.
I'm not sure what led me to pick up "Half the Sky." Issues of gender equality and women's rights had never really been on my radar but the tagline "Turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide," really sparked my curiosity. A month later when I turned the last page of that book I was a changed woman. My once ignorant eyes had been opened to the gruesome realities that my gender faces in other areas of the world. The book turned me into an advocate and ignited a fierce passion for girl's education.
I became a dedicated follower of the Half the Sky Movement and it was through one of their updates that I learned about this amazing little girl named Malala Yousafzai. This brave girl was speaking up for girls rights despite the very dangerous position it put her in because of her male dominated and traditional culture. I could not believe her courage. Malala was a fearless leader in the fight for education. To many she was a hero, but to some she was the enemy.
Just shortly after learning of Malala, I learned that she had been shot by the Taliban.
The miracle that followed continues to blow my mind. Malala survived the shot to the head with minimal lasting damage. Just one year later, Malala is back in the spotlight continuing her battle for girls rights in Pakistan and around the world.
Within seconds of seeing and hearing this young girl speak you can feel that she has a presence about her that cannot be ignored. Even in her tiny stature and age of only 16, Malala has a voice that commands not through volume, but through the power of her words.
Could you imagine what the world would be like if we were all more like Malala? Fearless to fight for what is right even when it means your own life is threatened. Brave enough to keep fighting even when afraid. Wise enough to know that true peace can never come from violence, but only through education and dialogue.
Malala has and will continue to inspire me not only with her words, but with her actions. I support education equality because I know there are so many children like Malala out there still waiting to sit at a school desk. They wait to pick up the most powerful weapons they will ever have; their paper and pencil.
Please get to know this amazing young girl through the interviews below and check out her new book "I am Malala." Malala Yousafzai, you are my favorite.
Watch the 20/20 episode with Diane Sawyer here.