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Standing Up to Oppression – The 6 Lessons that Malala Yousafzai’s Bravery Teaches Us

Updated: Mar 8, 2021

Malala Yousafzai’s actions are making the world a better place for children across the globe. Discover the most important lessons that we can all learn from her.

Civilisation has advanced so much that we take many things for granted. We believe that we’re somehow entitled to them and that nobody can take them away from us.

Education is a perfect example. Almost everybody has thought, or said out loud, ‘I hate school’ at least once in their life. And yet, there are many children whose biggest wish is to get an education.

The sad fact is that there are still many places in the world where kids, especially women, don’t have this right. Most of them believe that that’s just how the world works and there’s not much that they can do about it.

But there are also those who are brave enough to raise their voice and even die for this cause.

Malala Yousafzai is one of them. One of the world’s youngest activists, she’s one of the bravest people that this world has ever seen. She made history as one of the best-known fighters for girls’ education. Let’s take a look at how it came to this.

Who’s Malala Yousafzai?

Born in Swat Valley, Pakistan, Malala became a human rights activist at an early age. At the time, the local Taliban banned women from going to school, which is why Malala’s father schooled her at home.

Seeing the conditions of girls in her hometown, Malala decided not to succumb to such oppression. This is why, when she was only 11, she started writing for the BBC using a pseudonym.

Her goal was to show everyone in the world what kind of life girls lived in Pakistan.

Education was out of the question for them, and they had to spend their lives in silence.

A year after Malala started her blog, journalist Adam B. Ellick made a documentary about her life. This is the first time that her words reached the world for real. She gave interviews, went to protests, and was even nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize.

But Malala’s goal wasn’t to just spread the word. She wanted to do something to stand up to the Taliban. This is why, against all rules, she decided to attend school and not let oppression hold her back. And that’s when the biggest tragedy of her life happened.

In 2012, while she was on a bus coming back from school, a Taliban gunman shot Malala. By then, she was already well-known for not willing to succumb to the group’s edict. And the Taliban chose to retaliate and send a message.

Malala got shot in the head and almost died. Luckily, she survived the attack and went on to be an inspiration to the whole world

In short order, the whole world knew about the attack. Governments, activist groups, and human rights organisations denounced the Taliban. This caused anger and a Taliban official even threatened Malala’s life again. They justified this with religion, which naturally resulted in further condemnation.

Despite it all, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Malala. After the shooting, she truly made her dreams come true. From Ted Talks to UN speeches, the world has finally heard her words. Malala won a Nobel Peace Prize and made Time’s list of the world’s most influential people.

Although Malala went on to win many other awards, it was never about fame for her. She’s still as humble as ever and fights hard for girls’ education not only in Pakistan but all corners of the world.

It’s incredible that one girl had such a big impact on our society. Her bravery is proof that our actions can truly change the world.

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest lessons that we can learn from Malala’s story.

1. Speak Up

There are times in our lives when it seems too hard to stand up for ourselves. We’re too scared to raise our voice and make meaningful change. As a result, many people decide to live their lives in silence.

But it was this silence that made Malala aware of the importance of speaking up. She wasn’t scared of speaking up; the Taliban banned her from doing so. Still, she decided not to live on someone else’s terms and to fight for what she believed in.

So, the next time when you’re too afraid to speak up, remind yourself that it’s a blessing to have the possibility to speak up in the first place. You’ll see your fear washing away and find the capability to stand up for yourself.

2. Don’t Give Up

Malala’s example shows that you can achieve the impossible if you stay determined. In her words:

‘I’m just a committed and stubborn person who wants to see every child get a quality education – who wants to see women having equal rights and who wants peace in every corner of the world.’

When she had nothing but fear surrounding her, Malala never gave up. And now that she’s achieved more than most, she isn’t stopping. She knows her goals in life and doesn’t let anything distract her.

3. Knowledge Is Power

Imagine not being able to get an education. Living your life without the most basic knowledge. That’s how it was for Malala, and how it still is for many girls in Pakistan and other countries across the globe.

This is what Malala fights for, but she doesn’t do it through motivational speeches. Her goal isn’t just to move people to take action. Instead, she shares her knowledge with the world to inform people of everything that’s happening. It’s with strong arguments that she attempts to open people’s eyes and make them facilitate change.

If you believe in something, take your time to learn as much about it as possible. People will want to stand by you and hear you share this knowledge.

4. Go through Life with Bravery

You can’t achieve big things without overcoming many obstacles. Malala’s story is all the proof of this that you need. There are very few people in this world who had to go through what she went through at such a young age.

Far older and more experienced people than her would’ve given up and surrender to fear. But not Malala, who bravely stood up against the oppressors at the risk of her own life.

In her speech, Malala said:

‘They thought a bullet would silence us, but they failed. Nothing changed in my life except this: Weaknesses, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.’

Here’s the lesson. Don’t let fear hold you back. Transform it into power and use it to push through hardship.

5. Dream Big

What are the chances of a young girl from Pakistan giving a speech in front of the UN and winning a Nobel Peace Prize? These things might not have been her goal, but they were a product of her big dreams.

Malala worked incredibly hard to accomplish them and sacrificed a lot to make sure that people hear her voice. After almost losing her life for the cause, she finally made it all happen.

This shows us that anything is possible. Don’t set limits for yourself and don’t believe that your dreams are too big. Aim as high as you possibly can, and then do everything in your power to make it happen.

6. Your Words Can Inspire Others

‘If one man can destroy everything, why can’t one girl change it?’

This is one of the most famous quotes from Malala’s speech. And it couldn’t ring any truer. You can’t see the full power of your words until you share them with the world. Fearlessness and bravery are contagious. This is why many people who heard Malala’s story are taking action to help her cause.

Those who have the most to benefit are the ones Malala is fighting for. Her story gives them hope that there will come a day when they’re free from the constraints of others.

Remember, don’t be afraid of sharing your story. This can create a ripple effect that inspires a broader spectrum of people than you can imagine.

Fight for What You Believe In

If there’s one thing that we can all learn from Malala, it’s that everyone can make a change. All it takes is taking our life into our own hands and standing up for ourselves.

There will be many times when life seems unfair. When this happens, it might cross your mind to pin blame on others and obsess over the injustice.

But instead of doing this, you need to realise that you have more power than you think. Everything in life happens as a result of our decisions. While this might seem scary, it gives you the freedom to change your life in any direction you want. So use that freedom and build the life that you want.

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