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The GW Hatchet

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By Hannah Marr, News Editor • June 21, 2024

GW women honor Pakistani teen activist with push for global education access

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Zunara Naeem.

GW women took a stand Tuesday to support the Pakistani teen activist who survived an assassination attempt by Taliban gunmen on her way to school last fall.

More than a dozen students and faculty gathered in University Yard, led by the Global Women’s Institute, to honor Malala Yousafzai, who rose to global prominence for her hardline stance against the Taliban’s education ban for girls.

Demonstrators chanted “I am Malala!”, carried signs in support of now-16-year-old and raised their pink-dyed hands – the internationally recognized gesture to Yousafzai’s push for far-reaching educational access.

The Taliban retaliated against her last October, shooting her in the head while she waited for her school van. Since then, she has traveled globally to spread her message, including a 900-person crowd at Harvard University last week, and has won several peace awards.

“Malala is an inspiration to girls and women everywhere, and we are proud today to stand in support of her and what she stands for. She embodies what we strive to do every day at the Global Women’s Institute, which is to empower women and girls,” the institute’s director, Mary Ellsberg, said.

Rachel Clement, a graduate student who works at the Coalition for Adolescent Girls, said Yousafzai was an international inspiration.

“Youth are so often discounted, but [Malala] is so articulate in a beautiful, quiet way that it is very powerful for others who need a voice,” she said.

Emma Kone, a public health graduate student, said her family’s background in western Africa prompted her to participate in the demonstration.

“My parents live in a village in the Ivory Coast and didn’t really go to school, but my generation is different, and I see how essential an education is for us today,” Kone said.

Yousafzai began writing anonymous blog posts for BBC News about women’s rights under the Taliban when she was 11 years old. She told a Harvard audience last week that she will continue her push for global educational opportunities.

“Some people only ask others to do something. I believe that, why should I wait for someone else? Why don’t I take a step and move forward,” Yousafzai said. “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”

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