AS YOU READ THIS, THERE ARE APPROXIMATELY 130 MILLION GIRLS OUT OF SCHOOL WORLDWIDE. Something that Malala Yousafzai, 20-year-old Pakistani activist and youngest-ever Nobel Prize Laureate has been ﬁghting to change since October 2013, when she set up her eponymous organisation championing every girl’s right to 12 years of free, safe, quality education.
“My dream is for every girl to choose her own future,” Malala said last week, after the game-changing announcement that Apple will now be teaming up with the fund, enabling a signiﬁcant expansion of the initiative whose Gulmakai Network currently awards grants and supports programmes across Afghanistan, Pakistan, Lebanon, Turkey and Nigeria.
The goal? To double the number of grants offered, extend funding programmes to India and Latin America, and to give secondary-education opportunities to more than 100,000 girls.
It’s an unprecedented journey that began when Malala spoke out against the Taliban in 2008, who had issued an edict banning girls from going to school in her home of Swat Valley, Pakistan. Under a pen name, she started blogging for the BBC about life under the Taliban, before publically campaigning for the protection of girls’ education. It led to her being targeted and shot on her school bus, leaving her injured but far from defeated.
“Malala is one of the most inspiring ﬁgures of our time, and we are honoured to help her extend the important work she is doing to empower girls around the world,” explained Apple CEO Tim Cook, who will also join the Malala Fund leadership council.
“We believe that education is a great equalising force, and we share Malala Fund’s commitment to give every girl an opportunity to go to school.” He continued, “I am grateful that Apple knows the value of investing in girls and is joining Malala Fund in the ﬁght to ensure all girls can learn and lead without fear.”