Hi everyone. I’m Tamara Jenkin, a UNICEF NZ Youth Ambassador.
I’m excited because next week is the first ever Malala Day. If you haven’t heard of Malala Yousafzai yet, she is a Pakistani schoolgirl who is an activist for girl’s education and woman’s rights, a blogger for the BBC and the youngest ever nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Tragically, late last year Malala was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen. Thankfully, after being in critical condition, her condition improved enough for her to be sent to a hospital in the UK for intensive rehabilitation. Malala’s passion for girls’ rights was not dampened by the incident. Her courage has ignited global support for girl’s education and, because of her, the United Nations petition “I am Malala”, was launched, demanding all children be in school by the end of 2015. Malala has done a lot for a girl who only turns sixteen next week!
Amongst the hype of her story it is easy for us, who have always had easy access to education, to forget what she is fighting for. Whether you live in Pakistan or New Zealand, without an education life has few opportunities. It is often difficult to find work, be aware of your rights or even have a basic quality of life. Girls often become reliant on a marriage and a husband to survive.
So why is it so important to fight for girls’ education? Girls access to education globally far lower than boys, yet often it is women who educate the next generations through their children. By educating girls we can break entrenched cycles of poverty and inequality and create a better future.
We can all play a part in making this happen. We can value our own education and use it to inform others and raise awareness. We can take practical steps to help whenever we can. Even supporting an organisation such as UNICEF to set up schools or train teachers can help.
I dream of becoming an investigative journalist. I want to travel, to write about the stories of people like Malala and to share those stories with the world. I hope this will inspire people to take action also. Like Malala I value my education, not just for myself but for the change it will enable me to bring about for others.
For me education isn’t just about the future, it’s about now. In Auckland next week is UNICEF NZ’s Youth Congress where young people from around the country are coming together to be educated about global issues effecting children. I am excited to be attending the Congress with over 40 other youth, where we will be inspired to take action and educate others! Why? Because once a spark starts a fire it’s hard to stop it burning. Malala’s story has inspired me and others all around the globe to take action and fight for education. So let’s throw a bit more fuel on that blaze and raise our voices for education!
Help spread Malala’s message that every child has a right to an education:
- Sign the petition to show your demand for emergency action in support of Malala’s education fight.
- Take a photo of yourself holding a sign with 1-3 words that answer “why is education for all important?” Email your photo to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add it to our Facebook page on July 12th to celebrate Malala’s birthday and show the world that we care about girls going to school!!!
Find out more about UNICEF’s work with education and gender equality here