On July 12, 2016, internationally recognized as Malala Day, Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai visited FilmAid’s programs in Dadaab refugee camp. There, she strongly advocated for girls education and proclaimed, “We should not ask children who flee their homes to also give up their dreams.”
Reporting from the momentous event is FilmAid Journalism Student, Isse Adbullahi:
MALALA CELEBRATES HER 19TH BIRTHDAY IN DADAAB SPEAKING FOR GIRLS’ EDUCATION
By: Isse Abdullahi
The young girls did not see it coming. Not a hint had been given that they would play host to the youngest Nobel Laureate and global activist for girls’ education.
They gathered, chatting in small groups and covering their faces from the cameras. With white hijab covered heads, blue dera uniforms and dust covered feet they moved around the world’s largest refugee camp, a home to them, with the girl they have come to idolize since watching her in the film He Named Me Malala screened by FilmAid International in support of girls’ empowerment.
Motivated by Malala’s determination to not only pursue her education but also to advocate for other less privileged girls around the world, especially those coming from parts of the globe that are unconducive to girls education, the girls braved the scorching sun of the North Eastern desert and the biting pangs of hunger to partake in the celebration of their quest for an education.
Globally, despite considerable progress for women in terms of education and schooling over the past two decades, education has not only been one of the most critical tools of empowerment for women but has also offered some of the clearest examples of discrimination against women. Of the children not attending school, there are more than twice as many girls as boys. And among illiterate adults, there are similarly unbalanced ratios of women to men.
Malala’s visit on her 19th birthday also coincided with the graduation ceremony for girls who have benefited from the Girls’ Mentorship program spearheaded by FilmAid to empower young girls to pursue education and be a light in their communities.
Standing before the commotion of the crowd gathering, she movingly remarked:
“Today, I turn 19, and this year, I am here to speak for my unheard sisters of Somalia striving for education every day in the refugee camp of Dadaab. I’m so happy to celebrate with my sisters and congratulate them on graduating from the Girls’ First program, which makes my birthday even more beautiful. My brave sisters here are committed not only to their own education, but to fighting for the rights of all girls to go to school.”
Throughout her emotional speech, she pointed out the myriad challenges that girls and women continue to encounter and the significance of educating girls.
Malala meets Rahma: A Heroine is Made
“One girl graduating today is my sister Rahma. Rahma has fled her home twice to come to Dadaab - once to escape conflict in Somalia and once to follow her dream of education. Rahma first came to Dadaab as a young girl. When her family returned to Somalia, there was no school for her - so she came back here alone, to finish her education. There are many girls like my sister Rahma here today. And I am here to remind world leaders that all girls here matter.”
In her closing remarks, Malala emphasized that education and empowerment is the only way to get out of poverty. She beseeched parents to stand for and support girls’ in attaining their full potential rather than being impediments in this noble pursuit.
Malala also expressed her fear about the return of refugees to Somalia as the education of girls will be at risk.
“I urge people today to join me in my campaign that education is the right of all girls. Yes, all girls.”