5 Things I’ve Learned from Malala Yousafzai

Today is Malala Yousafzai’s birthday. As an activist, advocate for girls’ education, champion of human rights and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala’s words and actions offer inspiration and hope to people all over the world.

In 2012, a Taliban gunman shot Malala as she travelled home from school. She was 15-years-old, and had already been advocating for girls’ right to education in her home country of Pakistan for several years.

One year later, on her 16th birthday, Malala gave a speech at the UN that cemented her position as one of the most inspiring, influential and important young people alive today. In the 4 years since that speech, Malala has turned personal passion into a powerful international movement working to transform the future – not only for girls and women, but for the world at large.

The same summer that Malala spoke at the UN, I graduated from university. In the years since that speech, I have been working to build my career in gender equality and human rights. As I’ve done so I’ve tried to learn as much as I can about what it takes to create change in the world and what it means to be successful.

Some of the most invaluable lessons I have learned so far – in both my professional and personal life – have been from the women I admire and look to as role models. Women like Malala.

And yes, she may be young, but the world seems finally to be getting the message – underestimate young women at your peril. I believe there is so much we can learn from Malala Yousafzai, and so in honour of her birthday, I’ve made a list of 5 lessons she’s taught me in my career so far!

1. Speak up

“We realise the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”

It can sometimes be easy to take the freedom to raise my voice, and especially the freedom to do so in safety, for granted. Malala reminds me that there are millions of girls and women without that luxury, and if we can do so must use our voices to make sure that that those who are silenced can be heard.

2. Be brave

“There’s a moment when you have to choose whether to be silent or to stand up.”

Malala’s story is one of immense courage. She has continued to fight for what she knows to be right in the face adversity that many could scarcely imagine, and she stands up time and time again against fear and threats and violence. Her bravery encourages me to be more bold and her refusal to give in to fear reminds me that I should do the same.

3. Be determined

“I’m just a committed and stubborn person who wants to see every child get [a] quality education – who wants to see women having equal rights and who wants peace in every corner of the world.” 

No matter what else is happening around her, Malala never wavers from her commitment to girls’ education. I often feel frustrated when it seems that change happens far too slowly – but Malala shows me the value of dedication and conviction.

4. Be knowledgeable

“None of the nine biggest countries in Africa, Latin America and developing Asia have increased their education budgets. Several are even making drastic cuts, putting more girls out of school.”

Malala’s knowledge when it comes to her cause reminds me that if I want to change something, I have to understand how it works in the first place. It’s clear that Malala understands the issues facing countries around the world preventing girls from accessing education, and it’s that knowledge that makes people listen up and take her seriously.

5. Be humble 

“I tell my story not because it is unique, but because it is not. It is the story of many girls.”

Despite her many achievements, awards and fame (she is the youngest person ever to win a Nobel Prize) Malala always speaks and acts with kindness, grace and humility. It might not be specific to work in gender equality, but it’s a quality I admire and try to replicate all the same!

Feeling inspired? Follow Malala on Twitter, make a donation to the Malala Fund, watch He Named Me Malala or check out her interview with David Letterman

This World Cup is Transforming Attitudes to Women’s Football

I have been a football fan ever since the 2014 FIFA Men’s World Cup. This year, for the first time, I have been watching the Women’s World Cup. It’s not that I haven’t previously wanted to, but the last time a Women’s World Cup was broadcasted in South Africa was 2011.

This year is the first time the South African women’s national team, Banyana Banyana, has ever qualified for the Women’s World Cup. Here are some things I have learnt from watching the tournament so far:

The Speed of the Game

Critics can be quick to describe the women’s game as too slow. With many teams, this is far from what I have observed. I personally think the USA Women’s National Team is as good as Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City team! The only criticism I have is that there should be more investment in players for women’s teams.

The Market

The market is there. Nike recently reported that the USA’s women’s shirts sell better than any other sports shirts. I had absolute chills when I saw the same company’s advert before the World Cup. It was the first time I had ever seen a sports advert with so many powerful women in it.

There are also people who say that tickets don’t sell in the women’s game. One million tickets for the 2019 tournament have been sold. Organizers have admitted that they may have miscalculated and should have used bigger stadiums.

There is a huge pay gap between men and women

Like in many other industries and sports, there is pay inequality between male and female footballers. The prize money for the Men’s World Cup was 38 million dollars. The winners of this year’s women’s tournament will receive 4 million dollars. For someone who loves the beautiful game, this is disappointing. The USA Women’s Team are currently legally challenging their federation against discrimination and demanding to be paid their worth.

The Biggest Positives

What I like most about the women’s game is that it is not overly commercialized – as yet. The footballers are really playing for the love of the game. Women like Brazilian legend Marta, and possible player of the tournament – America’s Megan Rapinoe – are inspiring millions of girls AND boys all over the globe. There are so many female footballers whose voices and stories are not heard as they should be.

The Biggest Let Down

What has frustrated me most about this World Cup has been the refereeing. Many have seemed inexperienced, especially in interpreting the highly complex and controversial Video Assistant Referee (VAR). I hope FIFA and football associations around the world give these women the opportunity to do more refereeing and gain more experience. Why not have female referees for men’s games as well?

Le Grande Finale

The FIFA Women’s World Cup Final takes place on Sunday 7 July 2019. It’s going be a big one. Defending world champions the USA are up against current European champions the Netherlands. I am incredibly excited, and I hope you will be watching too!

Feminist Friday: Women Who Inspire Me

The world is full of inspirational women, but today I want to focus on those who are making a difference in the political or media realms. These four women continue to make progress related to women’s rights and the media attention that women’s issues receive. I believe they deserve our applause and appreciation!

Leanne Manas

Leanne Manas is one of the most esteemed personalities on the South African media circuit, having won multiple awards as a TV presenter and radio host. Manas has interviewed some of the most accomplished public figures of her time, from Oprah Winfrey to Nelson Mandela, who chose her before his passing as one of his 46664 ambassadors.

Manas played a vital role in the lead-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, and her ability to report on hard-hitting news stories has built her career internationally. Driven by her love for her country and fellow South Africans, Manas is inspiring because of her tenacity to represent the best of her country while reporting on the worst of it. Her strong desire to make her country better saw her summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2015 on Nelson Mandela Day, to raise money for Caring for Girls.

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris, previously attorney general for two terms in California, is no stranger to breaking the archaic barriers which have formed the structure of American politics as we know it.

Harris, whose parents are Indian and Jamaican immigrants, is smashing through that proverbial glass ceiling. Her most recent win on November 8 2016 makes her the first Indian-American and the second black woman ever to be a U.S. Senator. And while she only started her new career on Capitol Hill in December – she has already promised to challenge Trump on his ideas regarding immigration reform.

Harris represents a demographic which is usually maligned by the undercurrents of prejudice in patriarchal institutions. As Jada Patchigondla, a San Jose State University lecturer stated, seeing Kamala Harris elected “gives me hope and encouragement… I hope she will inspire many young Indian-American women to get involved in politics.”

Gretchen Carlson

A news anchor, author, and public speaker, Carlson is an acclaimed broadcast news anchor and journalist. Her best-selling book, Getting Real, and her thoughtful yet candid voice on women’s leadership earned her a spot in TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” list for 2017.

Carlson is an admirable and impressive person all-around. A hard-talking and insightful political reporter, she also volunteers at her church and sits on the board of several charities, including the Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary in Newtown, Connecticut.

However, perhaps most importantly, Carlson is a light in the woods for female survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault in the workplace, and a champion of gender equality in general. She recently commented that sexual assault and gender inequality “is not only a women’s issue. It’s a societal issue. Men need to hire more women and put them in higher positions of power within organizations.”

Tammy Duckworth

Tammy Duckworth broke a host of barriers when she won election to Congress four years ago.

Duckworth, who lost her legs and injured her right arm while serving in the Iraq war, became the first disabled woman to reach the House. She’s also the only female U.S. Senator to have seen combat and the first member of Congress who was born in Thailand.

As army veteran Taylor Vialpando puts it, “It’s refreshing to see someone who truly cares for all people and has so much life experience and personal sacrifice to back it up.”

There are inspirational women all around us. Although we’re conditioned only to celebrate certain virtues that women have, the truth is that females have tremendously varied talents and skills. Women and girls are just as capable as their male counterparts, and you deserve to feel proud to be a female.

Women in Leadership – Tällberg Foundation’s 2016 Global Leaders

“By honoring these amazing leaders, the Tällberg Foundation seeks to draw attention to their work and to provoke a global conversation about leadership…they demonstrate that effective, courageous, and innovative leadership can overcome even the most seemingly intractable issues.”
– Alan Stoga, Tällberg Foundation’s Chairman

At a time of growing doubts about the quality of leadership in many countries, five extraordinary women leaders spur us to question what kind of leadership is required to counter the challenges of the 21st century. This year, the Tällberg Foundation has the incredible opportunity to honor their work through the Global Leaders and Prize process. Celina de Sola, a Salvadorian humanitarian and co-founder of Glasswing International; Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Eleni Antoniadou, a Greek scientist, Sunitha Krishnan, an Indian social activist; and Thuli Madonsela, former South African Public Protector all demonstrate that individual leadership through innovation, ethics, determination and willingness to take great risks still exists.

Despite their diverse backgrounds, they all have one thing in common; these global leaders are setting the stage for the transformation of leadership in the modern world. Not only are these women leading change in their various capacities, they inspire both men and women globally to challenge existing paradigms in principled ways.

Celina de Sola is the innovative force behind Glasswing International, a non-profit that specializes in community-based education and public health initiative to foster a collaborative approach to end poverty and violence through the government, private sector, and civil society.

Christiana Figueres served not only as head of UNFCCC but also led the six-year effort which created the historic Paris Agreement on climate change. Eleni Antoniadou, co-founder of Transplants Without Donors is paving the way for artificial organ transplants to fight illegal trafficking through regenerative medicine. Sunitha Krishnan uses her passion for activism to fight against sex trafficking in India through her organization, Prajwala. And Thuli Madonsela represents a beacon of integrity, leading a fearless fight against corruption as South Africa’s former Public Protector.

These global leaders are being celebrated at the 2016 Tällberg Foundation Global Leadership workshop in Amsterdam from November 28 – 29, 2016. The Foundation is excited to kick-start the workshop with a public session addressing “What kind of leadership is required to meet the challenges of the 21st century?” which will be livestreamed on November 28. The live session which will be moderated by Jeroen Smit along with Defne Ayas will facilitate an engaging conversation for community members to participate in finding solutions to the world’s biggest problems. Two of the leaders will emerge as winners of the Global Leadership Prize, and each will be awarded $50,000. They will join last year’s Global Leaders as well as leaders from a wide variety of countries, cultures and organizations to share inspiring stories and explore some of the best practices of making a difference in a complicated global environment.

The Tällberg Foundation is an independent non-profit educational organization that is dedicated to encouraging dynamic conversations and optimizing resources to empower effective leadership. The Foundation hosts many projects and workshops, all of which promote the exploration of circumstances that are likely to define the next generation of geopolitics.


Meet Wynter Oshiberu – Girls’ Globe Blogger from USA

Wynter Oshiberu has had a deep curiosity for languages and cultures from a very young age, and as she grew older her curiosity has blossomed into an appreciation for the mutual interests that individuals from various backgrounds share. Her recommendations for global leaders is to make quality education available for everyone and to put women and girls at the forefront of their decisions.

These interests developed into her passions, thus she has earned a degree in International Affairs from George Washington University; and, she has worked with researchers, academics and thought leaders on various topics pertaining to the well-being and advancement of marginalized communities. She is most passionate about promoting and ensuring quality education for women and girls, especially in lower socio-economic settings and post conflict regions. As an avid language and education enthusiast, she has continued to augment her language skills by studying Arabic, teaching ESOL and completing her TESOL certificate at Georgetown University. She believes that educational and technological advancements will contribute to innovative solutions for a broad range of societal and global issues.

She is currently serving on the Washington D.C. Regional Board for Indego Africa, an organization that partners with local women artisans in Rwanda and Ghana to provide leadership and educational training.

Follow Wynter on Twitter: @wyntawanderland

Featured image photo credit: Zayira Ray / Girls’ Globe

Video credit: Creative Director // Kimberly Graf, Film Director // Tiffany Jackman, Director of Photography / Editing // Skyler Whitehead, Whirlwind Productions LLC

Fatima inspiring people all over the world

A couple of weeks ago social media found a new star. The famous Facebook page Humans of New York (HONY) posted interviews about a wonderful Pakistani woman called Syeda Ghulam Fatima. I have been following this page for almost a year, and though HONY has stunned me many times, this is probably the biggest impact it ever had on me. Not only is Fatima’s story amazing, but the response it got was breathtaking – bringing people together from all over the world.

Fatima has dedicated her life to helping families escape from bonded labor in brick kilns. Though it may seem unbelievable today, modern day slavery does exist, and is an enormous problem in Pakistan. The laborers work in extreme conditions, they barely get paid, and if they die their debts are directly passed on to their relatives. It’s impossible to escape and if the families try to run the owners will retaliate with physical and sometimes sexual violence. The whole operation at these places is illegal, but corruption and bribery limits the police from interfering. That’s why Fatima has been leading the Bonded Labor Liberation Front, an organization fighting for these people.

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The stories Fatima has to tell are truly inspiring, and Humans of New York have been posting them in fragments. Brandon Stanton, owner of the Facebook page, posted a link to a fundraiser, asking people to help extend Fatima’s very limited budget. It seems like social media has done its part. The stories about Fatima being electrocuted, abused and shot for trying to make a change, combined with stories of the families she has saved, made me and apparently a lot of people stir in our regular browsing-positions, and has urged us to make a difference ourselves. The fundraiser kept ticking during the few days it was open for donations.

One woman has inspired so many people. And it wouldn’t have been possible without the power and reach of social media. That makes me praise not only the people involved, but also the technology of our time.

HONY wasn’t the only one to acknowledge Fatima. In January, VICE News uploaded a video on YouTube featuring Fatima, where she was asked if she feared death. The answer came quickly:

”No, I´ve seen death very closely. There have been many murder attempts against me. They put a pistol to my head. I have been beaten many times. I was sent to jail. But when I see the state of the kiln workers, and the brutalities committed against those women, after seeing those, I don´t fear death.”

Fatima’s bravery and unselfishness has inspired individuals to raise close to 2 million dollars for her cause. Now she can continue helping people without fearing for her own economic situation.

A statement was posted on HONY, where she thanked everyone involved. This woman certainly has touched the hearts of many. She is a true fighter, and has now become a role model for many women and men, all over the world. We need more people like her, and Fatima’s story is a great example of what social media can do when harnessed properly to promote positive change and inspire people. By using social media to raise our voices and share inspiring stories, we can encourage more people to get together and make a change faster than it has ever been possible before.