Deep within many towns and villages of Pakistan, Taliban forces hold immense power over the locals’ lives. However, when the Taliban gained control of the Swat Valley region, one fifteen year old girl refused to be silenced. With incredible bravery, Malala Yousafzai began to advocate for universal education and girls’ rights through her BBC blog and her powerful voice. Her activism has earned her numerous honors, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, making her the youngest ever recipient of the award.

Soon, the Taliban began to view Malala as a threat to its status quo in Pakistan and tried to assassinate her during a bus ride home from school. Malala survived the bullet to her head and came back stronger than ever to advocate for the cause. The incident also resulted in an incredible outpouring of support and admiration from millions worldwide, leading to the creation of Malala Day by the United Nations.

Falling on Malala’s birthday, July 12th, this day celebrates her bravery and activism. It also serves to encourage children all over the world to fearlessly advocate for the causes that are important to them.

This year, to mark her 18th birthday, Malala has created a new initiative called #BooksNotBullets. The campaign calls for world leaders to invest in education and books instead of warfare. In a post to her Malala Fund blog, she writes “If the whole world stopped spending money on the military for just 8 days, we could have the $39 billion needed to provide 12 years of free, quality education to every child on the planet.”

To spread word of her campaign, Malala has asked supporters to post a picture online of themselves holding their favorite book with a short caption explaining why they choose #BooksNotBullets.

As a woman, I value Malala’s campaign and in general, her advocacy immensely. In the face of adversity, Malala has taken a courageous stand for her cause and her determination and strength are qualities I strive to implement in my own life. Women in the United States, have more freedom than for example, women in Saudi Arabia. However, no matter where we live in this world, we do not have complete equality. It will take more women like Malala to make that change within global society for future generations.

Satya fullTo show my support for her, I would like to participate in her #BooksNotBullets campaign. My favorite book is Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals and I chose #BooksNotBullets because it is time we change the world by educating and encouraging youth to think creatively, be innovative with their ideas, and use their intelligence and their minds instead of force to get what they want. The beauty of our diverse world is that each individual contributes something unique and if we place emphasis on spending money to harness the educational potential of our youth instead of on the military, the future of our society will be bright.

Here at PCI, we salute this incredibly courageous girl by celebrating her and youth everywhere whose actions are making a positive difference in the world.

By Satya Naageshwaran
Satya is the Marketing and Communications intern at PCI. She studies at the University of California: San Diego and stands with Malala for #BooksNotBullets.