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Malala Yousafzai's 19th Birthday Is for #YesAllGirls, Access to Education

by Stephany Bai /
Malala Yousafzai acknowledges the crowd at a press conference at the Library of Birmingham after being announced as a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, on Oct. 10, in Birmingham, England. Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

For her 19th birthday on Tuesday, Malala Yousafzai will be visiting with girls from around the world to remind them — and the world — that all girls have a right to an education.

Yousafzai, who became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, celebrated her birthday last year by opening a girls’ school for Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

 Malala Yousafzai, center, poses with girls for a picture at a school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley on July 12. The Malala Fund, a non-profit organisation that supports local education projects, paid for the school in the Bekaa Valley, close to the Syrian border. JAMAL SAIDI / Reuters

July 12th was declared “Malala Day” by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in 2013 to commemorate Yousafzai's 16th birthday. Then, she delivered a speech at the UN calling for worldwide access to education. In that speech, Yousafzai said that Malala Day is “not my day,” but the “day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised a voice for their rights.” She has spent every birthday since campaigning for girls’ education around the world, traveling to areas where girls face the greatest barriers to education.

Yousafzai rose to international prominence in 2012, when she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman for her criticism of the Taliban and advocacy of girls’ education.

Although she wrote under a pseudonym when she first began blogging for the BBC in 2009, her identity was discovered as her cause gained more publicity. She continued speaking out for her beliefs despite increasing death threats from the Taliban, culminating in their assassination attempt.

Yousafzai is now based in the United Kingdom, where she graduated from high school with top scores.

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