“I believe we will see every girl in school in my lifetime,” says Malala Yousafzai almost as a conviction instead of some false sense of hope. And if you know anything about Malala who received the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2014 and became the youngest-ever Nobel laureate, you definitely know her fighting spirit – both literally and figuratively.
With more than 130 million girls out of school today, the goal of the Malala Fund is to make sure all girls receive 12 years of free, safe, quality education. Malala Fund works in regions where the most girls miss out on secondary education because of issues like, and not limited to; poverty, wars, child marriage and gender discrimination to go to school. Since its inception, they have managed to amplify the voice of those who have no platform to do so, and challenged world leaders to be held accountable.
Amina Yusuf, an intern at Centre For Girls’ Education in Zaria, Nigeria, who was almost a child bride. After one of her uncles insisted to her father that she needed to get married at 14 years old but thankfully, her father had the same hopes and dreams just as his daughter did: to be an educated young woman. “It is common in most rural Nigerian communities for young girls to be married off as young as 13 years old,” says Habiba Mohammed from Malala Fund Education Champion Centre for Girls’ Education.
“Health wise, the girls are not ready to be mothers. And so you find out that there are much more high rates of maternal mortality and morbidity,” she explains further. Most times the complications can compound to infertility for life. Her work includes motivating parents to allow girl children to go to school instead of being deputy parents to their younger siblings or being confined to sexist and patriarchal roles. The Malala Fund invests in education champions all around the world who work in the communities and do advocacy. They works in region where the most girls miss out on secondary education and their priority countries are Afghanistan, Brazil, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.
To have the financial backing of their partner, Citi, guiding and leveraging their global presence with people on the ground in almost all the countries they operate in has yielded amazing results. The fact that Citi is in most countries where girls are vulnerable makes sure that the Malala Fund does tangible work, get resources and expand with great confidence. When young girls go to school we maximise their talents, work towards gender discrimination and inequality, and empower them to speak up for their rights. And to reiterate the words of the powerhouse that is Malala Yousafzai: we WILL see every girl in school in our lifetime.