Having survived being shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 and having campaigned for the right to education for all ever since, Malala Yousafzai, the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, officially opened a secondary school for girls in Lebanon yesterday as a way to celebrate her 18th birthday.
The school, paid for by donations to the Malala Fund, will help to educate over 200 Syrian girls. A statement from Malala on the non-profit organisation website reads:
"I am honored to mark my 18th birthday with the brave and inspiring girls of Syria. I am here on behalf of the 28 million children who are kept from the classroom because of armed conflict. Their courage and dedication to continue their schooling in difficult conditions inspires people around the world and it is our duty to stand by them. On this day, I have a message for the leaders of this country, this region and the world – you are failing the Syrian people, especially Syria's children. This is a heartbreaking tragedy – the world's worst refugee crisis in decades."
Malala and her family now live in England but that hasn't stopped the young activist from actively speaking out about her desire for everyone, especially girls, to have an education. Despite her childhood now being behind her, she is passionate about reminding others that, even as adults, we can all change the world.
A few days prior to her birthday she attended the Oslo Summit and, in front of delegates including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared:
"As an adult, you can be the voice of children."
Malala is an inspiration to millions around the world and rightly so. May she continue to lead the campaign for education and may everyone get behind such an empowering woman and the cause she is so strongly fighting for.