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Yasmeen Hassan: A day for all girls; A day for Malala

Published: Thursday, Sept. 3 2015 11:59 p.m. MDT

A wounded Pakistani girl, Malala Yousufzai, is moved to a helicopter to be taken to Peshawar for treatment in Mingora, Swat Valley, Pakistan on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. A Taliban gunman walked up to a bus taking children home from school in Pakistan’s volatile Swat Valley Tuesday and shot and wounded a 14-year-old activist known for championing the education of girls and publicizing atrocities committed by the Taliban, officials said.  (Sherin Zada, Associated Press) A wounded Pakistani girl, Malala Yousufzai, is moved to a helicopter to be taken to Peshawar for treatment in Mingora, Swat Valley, Pakistan on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012. A Taliban gunman walked up to a bus taking children home from school in Pakistan’s volatile Swat Valley Tuesday and shot and wounded a 14-year-old activist known for championing the education of girls and publicizing atrocities committed by the Taliban, officials said. (Sherin Zada, Associated Press)

Our take: Between the recent airing of the "Half the Sky" documentary on PBS and the U.N. sponsored Day of the Girl, the issues women and girls face across the globe have been in the spotlight. Amid the stories of trafficking and forced child marriages have been stories of triumph and heartbreak.

Malala Yousufzai, a 14-year-old activist in Pakistan, became an international girls' rights activist four years ago when she protested the closure of girls' school in northwestern Pakistan. Tuesday, she was shot by Taliban gunmen and continues to be in critical condition.

In this piece for the Huffington Post, Yasmeen Hassan, the global director of Equality Now, upholds the voice of the girls who dare to speak out and risk be silenced for their activism.

Today, on the first United Nation's International Day of the Girl Child, the world's thoughts are with Malala Yousufzai, the 14 year-old Pakistani schoolgirl and activist who was shot Tuesday in the Swat Valley. Taliban gunmen have claimed responsibility for the attack, citing her campaigning for girl's rights to education as an "obscenity." Two additional schoolgirls were also injured in the attack.

Supporters chant prayers in support of 14-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai, who was shot on Tuesday by the Taliban for speaking out in support of education for women. (Associated Press) Supporters chant prayers in support of 14-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai, who was shot on Tuesday by the Taliban for speaking out in support of education for women. (Associated Press)

In 2008, the Taliban ordered the closure of all girls' schools in the district of Swat in the then North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan (now Khyber Pakhtunkwa) and destroyed over a 100 girls' schools in Swat. At that time, Equality Now attempted to bring a class action on behalf of Swati girls to establish the right to education, but neither law enforcement, prosecutors nor lawyers were willing to take a stand in the face of personal threats from violent extremists.

Malala Yousufzai, at the age of 10, refused to have her voice silenced and became a national icon of courage and hope. By the age of 11, she was awarded Pakistan's first National Peace Prize.

Four years later, she lays in a hospital bed in critical condition fighting for her life.

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