A year after being shot by the Taliban, Malala Yousafzai launches a nonprofit organization
MalalaFund.org is Malala's campaign to inspire others to change the world for girls
Tell your Malala Story on Twitter at #IamMalala
Editor’s Note: Malala’s interview with Christiane Amanpour will be featured in the CNN Special, “The Bravest Girl in the World,” on CNN Sunday, October 13, 7 p.m. ET
She’s an activist and a survivor known by her first name only. Malala has inspired people around the world to stand with her for girls’ education. Now, Malala Yousafzai is launching her own nonprofit organization, a year after being shot by the Taliban while heading to school in Pakistan.
The Malala Fund is officially described as being focused on helping girls go to school and raise their voices for the right to education. The organization’s mission seems to be based on a statement from Malala: “They thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed. And out of that silence came thousands of voices.”
“Malala is a symbol, a catalyst to get people excited about making an impact,” says Shiza Shahid, 24, CEO of the Malala Fund. “People have wanted to help and to give and now the fund can drive this energy.”
Shahid says The Malala Fund will try to battle the things standing between many girls and education, including culture, violence, poverty and a lack of quality schools. She says Malala wanted to build an organization to empower girls to survive and thrive, because, says Shahid, “There is still so much to do.”
Shahid met Malala several years ago and even helped organize a summer camp for Malala and other girls in Islamabad in 2009. Born in Pakistan, Shahid’s family made education its priority. Shahid won a scholarship to Stanford University then went to work in the private sector before turning to nonprofit work with The Malala Fund.
“Malala has an incredible voice,” says Shahid. “We wanted to enable her to raise her voice when she wanted to, but still be able to be a 16-year-old girl and focus on her studies.”
Malala is now in the 10th grade and although she has not decided where she will attend university, Shahid says Oxford and Harvard may be among the schools in the running. While attending school, Malala seems ready to continue to inspire other girls through The Malala Fund and a growing social media movement.
Malala wants to give girls power and she loves to connect with girls on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. She has held Google hangouts, Google and Facebook chats. A big focus of The Malala Fund is to continue to facilitate a social connection between Malala and girls around the world.
Many celebrities go by one name only, but Miley and Madonna don’t quite hold the power of Malala. There have been hundreds of millions of tweets over the past year containing the name Malala. People are now being encouraged to tell their Malala story by submitting a photo or video.
Some samples of how people are telling their Malala story at #IamMalala
“#IAmMalala because she is brave, and empowered. I hope all young women can follow in her footsteps!”
“#IamMalala because she inspires me. We need more Malalas in the world because every girl has the right to go to school.”
Actress Selena Gomez tweeted “#IamMalala I stand with Malala because there should be more young women like her. She is MY role model.”
In addition to raising awareness, The Malala Fund will be raising money. The goal is not to use the money to set up big regional offices and efforts but to empower global communities from the inside. Shahid says the fund will be looking for what she calls “innovative solutions” in developing countries and will support those programs. The fund wants to amplify the voice of already established and proven organizations helping to fight the good fight for girls education.
Malala has already used some money in her hometown in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. The money was used as a stipend to help poor families send girls to school instead of to work. Domestic child labor keeps many girls around the world out of school.
The Malala Fund calls it a moral imperative to give the innocent some sort of power and let people know what it means to be an educated girl.
In a way, we are all Malala and we can all do something.
For more ways you can help the cause of girls’ education, go to CNN.com/impact