Almost unnoticed, one of the greatest civil rights struggles of our times is being fought in our midst. Not by political honchos or country leaders, but by young determined children, turned activists. In the middle of religious opposition, deep rooted customs & traditions and the battle for basic rights, there is a silver lining. Across the world, young supporters of children’s education are being threatened, assaulted and in some instances, murdered. Yet, they remain bold, restless and purposeful.
Be it in a refugee camp, a rural village or at school, these children are starting to shape their own destinies and those of thousands of children around them. There’s a Malala is every child waiting to be unveiled.
Meet the oh-so-inspiring young ones who are changing the scape of activism for education world over!
Razia Sultan, India:15 year old Razia is a resident of a village in Meerut, India. A child labourer since the age of 4, she stitched footballs for a living like many other girls in her village but struggled against the odds and succeeded in passing Class 11. After being rescued by an NGO, she joined a school and eventually became a youth leader in her native place, encouraging other children in her village to join school. Razia has helped stop the exploitation of 48 child labourers and made sure that they were enrolled in school. Razia’s struggle against child labour and illiteracy was not just confined to her own place. She travels to different places as a youth leader and continues to carry out a door to door campaign for the education of children.
Hadiqa Bashir, Pakistan: 14 year old Hadiqa Bashir fights to stop child marriage in the Swat valley in Pakistan- a place where girls are offered for marriage in exchange for settling a dispute or to keep land in the family, a place where girls still struggle for basic rights. Changing the mindset and traditions of a conservative society is never easy – especially for a young girl. After school she goes to local neighbourhoods to spread awareness amongst girls and families who are deeply rooted in traditional customs. But, she hopes that with her efforts at least some children can have an education and a normal childhood.
Read more: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-32776484
Muzoon Almellehan, Syria: Muzoon has been living in the Za’atari refugee camp after feeling Syria in 2013. As she struggled to adjust to the curriculum and understand her teachers’ accents, she noticed girls her age disappearing from class. She was furious to know that two of her classmates had dropped out to get married. Child marriage wasn’t something she saw commonly at home in Syria, but in the camps it seemed rampant. Today, 16 year old Muzoon who works to convince parents in refugee camps to let their daughters stay in school rather than marrying them off.
Amina Yusuf, Nigeria: Inspired by Malala, 17 year old Amina is advocating for girl child education in Nigeria. “I want world leaders to consider attacks on girls’ education. Insurgency in Nigeria means that there is fear in my community and fear for girls’ safety. Before now, we all thought that school was the safest place but now it’s scary. I’ve heard that many girls in boarding schools have been taken out by their parents or organisations for security reasons. People are scared that their girls may be abducted too. I know that I’m scared too, but it won’t stop me from doing what I aspire to do. People weren’t able to stop Malala, and they can’t stop me.” Amina contnues to work to ensure all girls get equal opportunities.
Keshab Roy, Bangladesh: In class seven, Keshab, quit school to work as a labourer at a scrapped-iron shop as his father was seriously ill and he needed to provide for his family. Despite his conditions, Keshab was determined to complete his education. The world around Keshab became narrower. But he never lost hope of going to school again. With the help of Surjomukhi NGO, he was able to do so. Keshab, 18, went on to start ‘wedding-busters’, a youth led organization that runs child marriage free zones. With the help of his team, he succeeded in preventing 25 child marriages in his area, and counselled over 50 dropout school students to continue with their education.