It isn't very often that I come across an article that sends chills down my back, but this one did. Her name is Malala Yousafzai and she is a 14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl recently gunned down by the Taliban due to her promotion of education for girls. Despite the death threats this little girl had received, nothing could stop her quest. That is until she was gunned down on the school bus.
Looking back on my life, I remember the first time I performed in The Vagina Monologues, which ended up being the impetus for founding I AM THAT GIRL. One of the three monologues I performed was actually entitled, "Islamabad." It discussed the indecency of how women were treated there along with the brutal behavior many women endured for stepping out of line.
I remember thinking that I won the baby lottery by being born in Austin, Texas into the arms of Mark and Claudia, but I hoped someone would come for me if I had been born into a society where my sex alone would justify inhumane treatment. I sat there imagining a not-so-secret society that would come together and fight for our sisters everywhere.Â I AM THAT GIRL was created out of the realization that girls here in the U.S. were so focused on insecurities and lack of self-worth that they were too distracted to fight for anything other than the endless battle for their own confidence.
Yet time and time again, we've witnessed how shifting that focus on to others in need is an incredible way to build up self-worth and ignite a passion-filled flame. Something about standing up for others takes the focus off our shortcomings and puts it on to our capabilities, and the human connection that reminds us we are not alone. I thought that if I AM THAT GIRL could remind girls of their innate worth, we wouldn't have so many comatose Barbies wandering around aimlessly and we could band together to stand up for those who can't stand alone, lend our voices to those whose voices have been silenced, and fight for those who have no fight left.
Well ladies, this is our chance. At just 14, Malala has more courage than most of us dare dream of in a lifetime. She put her life on the line, so the least we can do is pick up where she left off and carry the torch. Just like us, Malala believes that the world can be better. That with a few brave people, we can stand shoulder to shoulder and fight to leave this world better than we found it.
Whether you’re on your lunch break, pretending to work or scrolling through your phone while on the subway, you stumbled upon this article for a reason and you’re reading this wondering what you could ever do to help the Malalas of the world. Her classmate Brekhna Rahim put it another way, "If the Taliban kill one Malala, [there] are thousands and thousands more brave girls like Malala in Swat." Well, I want to make an addendum to Brekhna’s comment. There are thousands if not millions of girls here in the U.S. who are just as brave, so let’s stand together to show people everywhere that Malala does not stand alone. Please take a moment to write her a note of encouragement. We'd like to personally send a box of letters, pictures, e-mails, and cards to her hospital room letting her know that she’s not alone.
Please send all e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org and all mail can be sent to P.O. Box 6802 Beverly Hills, CA 90035 by Monday, October 22nd.
Images courtesy of Stylemagazine.com, Csmonitor.com