Take 5: What I learned from Malala on International Women’s Day

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By Janita Hung

A few weeks ago, I had the incredible opportunity to listen to Malala Yousafzai at an International Women’s Day event. Malala is a passionate activist for female education and also the world’s youngest Nobel Prize laureate. Not surprising, but I left the session feeling more inspired than I could have imagined.

As we know, Malala experienced tremendous adversities at a very young age, but she fought for her dream and had many words of wisdom to share with the audience. Here are a few that stood out to me and I hope you will find motivation and inspiration in them as I did:

  1. Never stop fighting or working for what you believe in. You may feel frustrated when you don’t see big changes or successes. You may even question yourself on whether what you’re doing is the right thing. But if you believe in something wholeheartedly, don’t let these feelings get to you. As soon as they do, that’s when your mission stops, and the activism stops.
  2. Allyship of all kinds is important. We need partnership from everyone – including (and especially) support from men. Malala attributed the beginning of her activism journey to her father. If it wasn’t for her father who actively supported her to speak out, she wouldn’t be where she is today. Sometimes, support is as simple as taking a step back and letting others speak.
  3. Listen to your younger self. We dream big as children but as we grow older, society tells us, women especially, to think small. We are often told that there’s no place for you, it’s not your job, that’s not your role. This needs to change and we can combat this by muting all of that noise in the background that stops you from having ambitious dreams. Believe in the dreams you had when you were young because you can achieve anything you want. Listen to that younger version of you.
  4. Anyone can make a difference! No matter your gender, age, background, location, you can create change. You can make a difference in the world, all you have to do is try. So don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

130 million girls are still out of school and with the COVID-19 crisis, many may not return. To further her campaign, Malala has set up a fund that helps champion every girl’s right to 12 years of free, safe, quality education. Visit the Malala Fund website to learn more.

 

Janita is a member of the Corporate Communications team at RBC Wealth Management in Toronto. Before moving to Canada, she spent part of her childhood in Hong Kong. Having navigated the complexities of life in a new country, she values the importance of embracing one’s identity and culture and is passionate about raising awareness on diversity and inclusion. In her spare time, she enjoys trying out new recipes, taking walks around the city and trying out new restaurants.