When you educate a girl, it transforms her world. When girls are educated, it transforms our world…
For so many of us in Hong Kong, education is viewed as a fundamental human right. We are firm believers that every child has the right to learn – regardless of their geographical location or gender. It’s only when we take that belief and apply it as an assumption across the globe that we realise just how fortunate we are to be able to view education as a norm.
The story behind the cause:
Shiza Shahid has been a fervent advocate for girls’ education since she was a teenager. Whilst she was studying (on a full scholarship) at Stanford, she’d return from university to run secret summer classes for young girls in Pakistan. This was done covertly as it went directly against the Talaban’s restrictions. The day one of her students (now, Nobel Prize winner) Malala Yousafzai survived a direct shot in the head on her way to school in 2012, was a day a girl’s right to education was discussed as a global human rights issue.
The Taliban’s attempt to kill Malala led to protests across Pakistan and received worldwide condemnation. In the following weeks, 2 million people signed a ‘Right To Education’ petition, and shortly after, the National Assembly endorsed Pakistan’s first ‘Right To Free and Compulsory Education’ bill. The horror and fear acted as a pivotal point, and urged these two young activists to approach the problem on a larger scale. Founded by Shiza, Malala and Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, the Malala Fund has been working to bring awareness to the social and economic impact of girls’ education ever since.
The non-profit now works at local, national and international levels. They provide resources and fight for necessary policy changes to ensure all girls complete 12 years of education. By empowering other young women to raise their voices, these young women have unlocked the potential of future generations and demanded change.
What’s happening today:
Today, Shiza remains the founding CEO of Malala Fund, whilst also focusing on her role as founding GP for the newly-started Now Ventures. She works to leverage philanthropy, venture capital, technology and the media as driving forces for (scalable and recordable!) social impact. Now Ventures operates by investing in mission-driven startups that are creating positive global shifts. The venture capital platform enables these early-stage companies by using their transformative solutions as a driving force for sustainable change.
What impacted us most:
I had the immense honour of meeting Shiza at a Quintessentially event in Hong Kong. Listening to her share snippets of her powerful story made it clear she truly is an ambassador for empowering girls and women. Her honest, unassuming, and compassionate view of the world was paired with a great deal of determination and courage. What stuck with me the most was her humble ability to make action her priority. Her age was an irrelevant figure next to the years she has spent contributing her time and talents towards social justice. It’s no surprise she’s received awards like Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs (amongst countless others!).
With 32 million primary-aged girls still out of school around the world, and more than 98 million girls missing out on secondary education*, it’s clear that there’s still a huge amount to be done in support of women’s rights.
What we can do to help:
So often in life we speak about the word “privilege” and what it means. We speak about how we can use the education we’ve been given and the skills we’ve worked to acquire in order to make a positive impact. But it’s easy to forget that ignoring the problem is the privilege most often abused. Because so many of us are fortunate enough to be able to compartmentalise our desire for change and put our urge to act on hold. So what can we do? We can work to keep ourselves educated on the issues that are happening in our neighbouring countries. By learning about what needs to be done, we can let our thoughts, words and actions align, following through with the need for change…
All financial donations go towards supporting girls’ secondary education programmes, funding global advocacy efforts and helping Syrian refugees get back to school. Whether you’re looking to donate financial help, rally your loved ones for a fundraiser, or simply show your support for the #YesAllGirlsmovement by keeping your self informed, everyone has the ability to help make positive changes.
*Source: UNESCO Institute of Statistics
Because girls’ rights are basic human rights.