Malala Day 2014: Education about global issues #strongerthan a hashtag

On Malala Day 2014, kids and teens can watch a video and use a hashtag, but the impact of learning about global issues runs deeper than online sharing.

By , Correspondent

Today, on Malala Day 2014, there are some engaging ways for online activists to support global education and equal rights for girls. But there's also an important opportunity to educate ourselves in-depth on the issues.

Seventeen-year-old Malala Yousafzai, a powerful advocate for girls' education, captured world attention after she was shot by the Taliban two years ago for her outspokenness in her native Pakistan. On Sunday, she stood up once again for global education equality, meeting in Nigeria with the parents of more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the militant group Boko Haram. Coming just one day after her birthday, the wish she shared with the group was, “bring back our girls now, and alive.”

She also met with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan Monday to discuss ongoing but so far fruitless efforts to find the girls.

Recommended: 5 snapshots of girls' education in the Muslim world

Since seizing the schoolgirls from the village of Chibok in northeastern Nigeria in April, Boko Haram has continued to capture or threaten schoolchildren. Meanwhile, a global campaign, publicized most notably through the Twitter hashtag #bringbackourgirls, has raised awareness of their plight. 

Similarly, Malala Day is also using a hashtag to raise awareness of those who have overcome oppression, encouraging those on social networks to use the #strongerthan hashtag to send a message that together, a force for good is stronger than any terrorist threat.

The Malala Day page encourages visitors to take action by donating to the Malala Day fund, or visiting the Global Citizen site, where they can watch a video about her story and earn points that can be redeemed for a chance to win music festival tickets for one of four festivals around the globe featuring top artists.

It’s a concept that speaks to teens in a couple of ways. It encourages them to focus on a specific issue, and put their love of online videos and pop culture to work for good. The Global Citizen site is a smart iteration of this concept for young people who are accustomed to turning many of their online interactions into a game.

However, point-and-click activism only goes so far.

Parents, in particular, can jump in to help kids and teens build out the backstory behind what might only be visible today as an online campaign. The ONE campaign has a thoughtful write-up on the day and especially what it means to parents and family of girls.

For those who what to go a little deeper on Malala Day, here are some resources:

2013 speech at the United Nations

It was on this same day in 2013 that Malala made her first speech after recovering from being shot, at the United Nations. Here is a transcript of that speech, in which she points out that books and pens are the most powerful weapons against terrorists. 

The UN Secretary-General’s Global Initiative for Education 

“Education is a major driving force for human development. It opens doors to the job market, combats inequality, improves maternal health, reduces child mortality, fosters solidarity, and promotes environmental stewardship,” explains UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement on the web site about the initiative. 

The site outlines the priorities for the initiative and highlights organizations worldwide that are partners with the UN on the initiative - www.globaleducationfirst.org  

A conversation with Malala describing her early activism

Here is a 2012 Monitor correspondent's interview with Malala prior to her shooting in 2012.

As Malala said in her 2013 UN speech, “So let us wage a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism and let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons.”

Knowledge is the most important tool we have in combating global terror. It is no small thing for those passionate about a global issue to lend their voice to a cause online through sharing of ideas. Let’s also use the depth of knowledge available at our fingertips to nurture kids and teens’ interest in global issues, and arm them with the knowledge to be change-makers in the global fight for justice.

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