Malala Day: Let's celebrate the future of education

Howard Taylor from the Nike Foundation pays tribute to the girl who refused to give up on education

Today we celebrate the 16th birthday of a courageous young activist who inspired the world with her relentless fight for her right - and the right of girls everywhere - to an education.

Like many of the world's most iconic figures, Malala Yousafzai did not back down in the face of tragedy. Instead, she is fighting it head on - shining a much-needed spotlight on inequality in educational opportunity, and in doing so become the voice for girls and young women around the world. 

With one eye towards the post-2015 Millennium Development goals, Malala is celebrating her birthday today by delivering a set of education demands written by youth, for youth to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Girl Declaration

Malala - and her activism driven by youth, for youth - is an example of the crucial role girls can play in solving the most persistent development problems we face in the world today. In May, we announced The Girl Declaration, a call to action that, much like Malala representing the voice of youth everywhere, is written by girls, for girls.

The focus of the Girl Declaration is to embed girls in the post-2015 development agenda. We've spoken to hundreds of girls around the world who have been speaking out on behalf of the 250 million girls living in extreme poverty today.

They have dreams to study and complete university. They aspire to be teachers, entrepreneurs, pilots, policewomen and social reformers.

Universal education

The Girl Declaration translates their hopes and dreams into a set of recommended goals for the next set of global development goals. One of the goals is to expand opportunities for all adolescent girls, including the most marginalized, to complete a full cycle of post-primary education.

We stand with Malala - and every girl who fights for her right to education - today and everyday - on their bold efforts to make girls' voices heard and achieve universal education access.

If we unleash the unique potential of girls then we will transform the societies in which they live and end poverty before it starts. But that can only happen if girls' voices are heard and their needs are made a priority.

Happy birthday Malala!

Howard Taylor is managing director of the Nike Foundation

Make Malala Day count by supporting the Girl Declaration

Stand with Malala by signing her letter to UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon