Lately in the US, it's all about girls and STEM this, and girls and STEM that. Educators like ourselves, parents, and industry professionals have been racking our brains for ways to draw more girls to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, and put to rest the stereotypes and misconceptions that have kept girls out thus far. We fight for this because over half our population is female, yet only 14% of women go on to pursue degrees or careers in Computer Science—a field that presents MASSIVE opportunity to create positive change on a global scale. It's an important cause and we will continue to advocate for equity.
Here's the thing about the US, though—in our country, the vast majority of children, regardless of gender, have access to education, and if a girl wants to take Computer Science, she can freely do so (provided courses are offered at her school... but that's another issue). Though we have a ways to go when it comes to separating career paths from gender (eg. emphasizing that coding is for all students, not just boys), our educational system is at least structured so that students can choose the courses that interest them most.
In that sense, we are very fortunate for the educational infrastructure we do have, but we must remember that many parts of the world are struggling in this regard.
In Pakistan, for example (according to ABC News), only 40% of adult women can read and write, compared with 69% of men. Additionally, 71% of Pakistani women have not completed primary school, and some communities neither expect nor allow girls to attend school at all.
Enter seventeen-year-old Nobel Peace Prize-winning powerhouse, Malala Yousafzai. Despite having been brutally attacked by the Taliban in her quest for educational equality in Pakistan and around the world, she continues to advocate fiercely for girls' right to attend school. She has since founded a non-profit called the Malala Fund, and is known for her powerful sentiment that "one child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world."
It was recently announced that this October, a documentary of her young life titled "He Named Me Malala," will play in 171 countries, including the US. The film, brought to life by Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth and Waiting for Superman) depicts Malala and her family's tumultuous fight for girls' education worldwide. Judging by the trailer below, it's going to be intensely powerful and beautiful.
Check out the trailer and read on for 10 reasons you should join us in pledging to see the full-length:
10 Reasons to Learn More About this Extraordinary Girl and See "He Named Me Malala"
1. Malala has been advocating for girls' education since she was only eleven years old. Talk about doing something BIG at such a young age.
2. At seventeen years old in 2014, she was the youngest person in history to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
3. She was shot in the head by the Taliban for her ideals about girls' education, recovered, and persisted in her fight for equality. She's literally a superhero.
4. After she recovered, she stated, “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.”
5. Her family is brilliant, progressive, driven, and extremely supportive. You'll love watching them on screen and witnessing their love for Malala and their passion for girls' rights.
6. Her father, an educator and education activist named Zia, named her after "a girl who spoke out and was killed" (a freedom fighter named Malalai of Maiwand) because he had a feeling she would be powerful and special. Watch his incredible Ted Talk here and learn the whole story.
7. At the end of his Ted Talk, Zia said, "People ask me what is special about my mentorship that has made Malala so bold and courageous, vocal and poised. I tell them, ‘Don’t ask me what I did. Ask me what I did not do. I did not clip her wings, and that’s all.'” #dadofthecentury
8. In the past few years, Malala has founded her own non-profit and published a memoir—which happens to be the #1 best seller on Amazon. Getting the feeling that this girl is worthy of your attention?
9. She began the Twitter hashtag #StrongerThan to bring others into the conversation about overcoming injustice and fear. Thousands and thousands of courageous posts have rolled in over the past few years.
10. Filmmaker Davis Guggenheim is brilliantly talented and will undoubtedly do Malala's story justice.
Convinced yet? Click here to pledge to see the film this October. We'll be there—that's for sure.