Education is a Feminist Issue: I am Malala Too

Reading excerpts from my intersectionality piece during our feminism class assembly on International Day of the Girl. (photo credit: Lexie Clinton).
Reading excerpts from my intersectionality piece during our feminism class assembly on International Day of the Girl. (photo credit: Lexie Clinton).

Whether you are undocumented, poor, or a girl should not be reasons for any person to not receive the education they deserve.

In my high school feminism class, we looked at Girl Rising statistics on global girls issues and I noticed that one main issue in a girl’s life is the lack of education she receives. According to UNESCO, school is not free in over 50 countries.

I am constantly told, especially now that I am applying to college, that lack of financial resources should not be a reason to not attend a specific college. Even though I am aware of scholarships, at the end of the day, I am going to pick the school that gives me the best financial aid package if I do not receive a scholarship.

However, a lot of young women and girls do not receive the same opportunities as I have and are not aware of all the opportunities out there. In many developing countries, young people, especially girls, leave school and stay home with their families. There are 66 million girls out of school globally. These numbers are too high, and work has to be done.

On International Day of the Girl at the United Nations, my high school feminism class attended a Girls Speak Out event that featured girl activists from around the world. All of the speakers inspired me.  Girls from different part of the country who were younger than I amazed me with the amount of dedication and leadership they are contributing to their country.

When Yasar Halit Ceik, the ambassador of Turkey, stated that there are “many Malala’s in the world,” it made me realize that it is never too early to fight for what you are passionate about.

At the United Nations on International Day of the Girl with my some classmates from the Feminism class. Captured by: Russell Lasdon
At the United Nations on International Day of the Girl with my some classmates from the Feminism class. Captured by: Russell Lasdon

I admire each of the girls I heard at the Girls Speak Out event. For example, Malika, a 14 year old from Burkina Faso, raised money for 60 bikes to distribute to girls in the village of Boulsa. She works to help girls get educated and get to school safe. She ended her story by saying, “educate a girl and she will change the world.”

Diana, a 16 year old from Mexico, works to “educate, empower, and advocate for undocumented youth in the US.” I admire her for being brave and for stating during the Girls Speak Out:  “I am undocumented, unafraid, and unapologetic.” Diana’s confidence and passion for undocumented people in the United States made me tear up and get goosebumps.

Her story was inspirational and made realize the amount of suffering undocumented children and young people go through in their lives. In my family, I don’t have cousins who are undocumented but my mother’s cousin and her husband are both undocumented and left their children back in the Dominican Republic. She has not been able to see her kids grow up and see her grandchildren. The only way she sees them is by the pictures she is sent on their birthday.  She has her own beauty salon in her house and takes care of kids from home to earn money to send to her children.

Even as an adult, an undocumented person struggles to survive, and I can just imagine the pressure an undocumented child has to go through. Diana talked about how she wants to be the first undocumented girl to go to college in her family. As a result of listening to her story, I was proud to be around people who support each other and are confident enough to share their stories.

Similar to the Girls Speak Out event that was held at the United Nations, my feminism class was able to have an assembly in honor of International Day of the Girl. We were able to share an excerpt from our intersectionality piece about lives along lines of race, class, and gender. It was interesting to hear everyone’s story because we are all aware of the issues girls face. Many of us have faced some sort of discrimination. Having this assembly helped us make our fellow peers in school aware that there is still work to be done.

Even today, we get people fighting for our human rights as girls. We have Malala fighting for the right of education for every child. She has declared: “ I want to change the future of my country, and I want to make education compulsory.

Similar to Malala, I want to change education for children in my community and hopefully in the future, I will be able to work at the global level. An innocent child should not be denied the opportunity to get educated because of their gender, immigration status, race, ethnicity or family income. I am a Malala.

16 thoughts on “Education is a Feminist Issue: I am Malala Too

  1. Great post! I agree that education is of the utmost importance. I agree, much work has to be done for girls’ education, especially in developing countries. I also connected with Diana. Her words were so thoughtful and powerful. The thought of not being able to see family members for an extended period of time left me heartbroken. I completely agree, there is still work to be done, on a global, national and local level. I hope that more people will understand the importance of education and there will be more opportunities for girls in the future.

  2. It is interesting how you talk about education in our own country and how factors like money play a huge role, yet you are still given the opportunity. It is great that you see your opportunity and very sad that many girls are not even aware of these opportunities. I agree the amount of girls out of school globally is way too high.

  3. I also agree that the power of education is priceless and it is truly unfortunate that education could be so different in different areas. I think that education provides a certain of both independence as well as a confidence that cannot shattered. Education is the key. The older I get the clearer it becomes. I think you truly hit the nail on the head by acknowledging Diana’s story, as well as Malala’s, both young women show what education can result in. With the right knowledge you become unstoppable.

  4. Yay I’m first. Well to kick things off I really love the way you started this post. Right off the bat you start with no matter who you are there really is no valid reason to not be receiving education. I loved how that kick started where your piece was going with education especially with how you connected it to immigration status. I think we often forget that lack of education is so closely related to the immigration status of an individual and that one cannot be resolved without the other. I also couldn’t agreed more with your reaction to Dianna’s presentation. When I was watching the live stream of that particular moment I really was in a moment of wow I’m afraid for her but I’m also really happy for her that she can speak up about that.

  5. It is clear that you are passionate about issues of educating girls and I agree that there should not be limitations on the education that all girls deserve. I also really like when you say “I was proud to be around people who support each other and are confident enough to share their stories” because I think that being around passionate supportive people is contagious and really does a great job of capturing the whole feeling of the IDG Girls Speak Out.

  6. I remember Malala emphasizing during her birthday speech at the UN that she is just one girl out of millions who are just like her; fighting for an education. She wanted to make sure the audience didn’t forget that the event wasn’t about her, it was about the girls she had the opportunity to speak for publicly. So when you say “I am Malala;” I believe you are Yarimar. You are a girl, just like millions of other girls, who have found your voice and who will fight for the right of education for girls who are being denied their rights of a free education.

  7. I really like your take on people who are undocumented and how education is limited because of that. I also felt empowered when Diana spoke out, and like you I am Malala as well.

  8. From our perspective, especially in the leap towards higher education that we’re about to take, it’s difficult to imagine that many young girls have to struggle with much different matters, without having ever lived part of the experience that to us is so precious. Yet, you captured this aspect very effectively. You seem very passionate about the matter of education and perhaps college is helping you see it under a different light; it’s wonderful that the event at the UN revealed to you your own potential! It’s true that “it is never too early to fight for what you are passionate about”, as the activists of the Girls Speak Out showed. Their stories were admirable and, though I could not relate to some of them as closely as you could, they were particularly touching. Your story and perspective were enriching for me and provided greater meaning to the words of Diana; it’s through testimony like yours, like hers, stories that are personal and real, that awareness can be raised and change promoted, through the plans and hopes that you have for your future. It’s very admirable. As you say “I am a Malala”, I hope more people will identify with your statement and see that she is not an exception.

  9. Yari I am happy that stories about uneducated girls makes you feel very passionate, as it should. I appreciate the fact that you are aware of the privileges that you posses and I think that it is important while moving towards a better world. I agree with you when you say that “Her story was inspirational and made realize the amount of suffering undocumented children and young people go through in their lives.” I think that hearing about specific stories makes this issue more of a reality to us. I also find it touching that you were able to relate to Diana’s story.

  10. I think its great that you put facts into your blog post. It is one thing to talk about something, but when you state the facts, it becomes much more present. I was astonished after reading some of the facts on the list, and I am glad to hear I am not the only one worried about what is going on. When you discuss Malala’s wish of equal education for all, it is hard to think about anything but what can I do. Your post opened my eyes, and was well written. Great post Yari.

  11. Opportunity and support are the two major things when it comes to education. When my mom and I talk about college she always tells me that whatever college I apply too to make sure that I would be happy there. At the end of the day it all balls down to money. And it’s the sad truth. Also when you said, “However, a lot of young women and girls do not receive the same opportunities as I have and are not aware of all the opportunities out there.” I thought about under developed neighborhoods right her in New York where the children go to public schools, where teachers don’t have enough books for each child to have their own, where the teachers simply don’t care. I’m blessed to be going to private school where all I need to do is ask and I know I will receive.

  12. I enjoyed how you were able to make the education aspect relatable. As you say, there are lots of girls who are not aware of the rights and opportunities they are entitled to, especially education. No one should be limited because of their families’ income or the color of their skin. We have come along way, in that girls are entitled to an education is acknowledged. Yet we still have a longer way to go, working to make sure all people are fairly educated in all countries. I admire that you would like to work on a global lives because then you’d be helping to make sure that there aren’t 66 millions girls out of school in future generations.

  13. Yari, I love how you started out the post because I completely agree with it. It is also so hard to realized that all of the Girl Rising statistics are real. Its crazy to think that globally, 66 million girls are out of school. I can really relate to you when you talk about having to choose college based on the best finical aid. I also loved when you quoted Malika saying “educate a girl and she will change the world” because it is so true!!

  14. Yari, I think it is so important that you feel so strongly about education. My experience with being ill and having to relearn many subjects showed me that the right resources really do make a difference. I think its sad that you feel, because of financial backgrounds that you feel that you have to go to the school that gives you the most financial aid. Reading this really spoke to me because my mother recently told me that next year she will no longer be working at the hospital. I worry that maybe I wont be able to go to the college of my choice due to future financial issues. I agree that the amount of girls who go uneducated due to financial issues is ridiculous.

  15. Yes, Yari! I find it too often and too close for comfort the idea of opportunity and support as Maddie said in her comment going hand in hand with privilege for education. We see this even at our level of education and privilege that because we do not have enough resources we won’t be accepted into the colleges of our dreams or even the best fits and so we have to settle. This is a similar feminist issue where women are told what is good for them and what they deserve and so they never aim higher. Anyway, I applaud your activism and your enthusiasm in speaking up for education for all!

  16. I loved how you ended your post by stating, “I am a Malala.” It is so important for people to realize, as Yasar Halit Ceik said, that there are “many Malala’s in the world,” and she is just one of millions of empowered young girls who are speaking out. I agree with you that, “whether you are undocumented, poor, or a girl should not be reasons for any person to not receive the education they deserve.” It is truly inspiring to see girls from all over the world fighting to make this goal a reality.

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