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Today and every day, I am Malala

Malala Yousufzai is fifteen. Right now, she’s in a Birmingham hospital. It’s probably safe to say she’s the only patient in there being treated for bullet wounds sustained from an assassination attempt by the Taliban.

But Malala Yousufzai is no ordinary fifteen-year-old. Her name is now known around the world, and it’s associated with courage, justice and a determined commitment to peacefully achieving equality in the face of oppression, hatred and violence.

One month ago, Malala was hunted out and shot on her school bus for freely expressing her innocent desire to an education equal to the men in Pakistan's Swat valley. She was 'punished' for simply asking for equality. But, hearteningly, thousands upon thousands are standing beside her. And they won't budge.

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I am Malala

Today has been named 'Malala day' by the United Nations, a day for all those around the world who've been inspired by Malala's courage, shocked by her violent attack, to say 'I am Malala' and support her campaign for education for girls and women in Pakistan. Today, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, will lead calls for Pakistan's President to ensure that Malala and other human rights defenders working for equal access to education are protected, valued and listened to. And today we should firmly stand beside Malala, and let her know we're with her.

Send your message of support to Malala, Kainat and Shazia

Has Malala inspired you? Have you followed her injury, and now recovery, in the month since she was shot? Let her know. We're collecting messages for Malala and her two friends injured in the attacks, Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Ahmed, from all over the world, to hand over to the Yousufzai family in the near future.

Write your message to Malala

"Thank you for making the world a better place"

Around 5,000 of you have left messages for the three girls over the past month via our website or by text. Here are a very small selection of the kinds of things you've been saying.

I can't even begin to imagine what you are going through. What I do know is that you are a brave and inspirational young woman. It's people like you that can change the world, don't let this awful experience stop you from fighting for what you believe in. I wish you all the love in the world.

Having to fight for education is something many of us have not experienced, and many of your messages reflect that.

I think what you did was so inspiring. So many girls in my country take school for granted. I hope you recover and get the right to education that you deserve.

The world needs a change, especially where you live. I live in a country where education is not an option but a priority. So it is a little difficult for me to digest what those who wish to be educated must be feeling. I sincerely hope that your wounds, and those of your two brave friends, heal and that you are able to be educated along with your peers in your country.

We've received many messages from schoolchildren...

This is from our two families, and all five of us are lucky enough to have a good education at local schools. Some days we do not wish to go to school, but here we are safe to go and learn. I wish I had your amazing courage.

I am 11 and have just started high school. I am very shocked about what happened to you and I don't think you deserved it. I think you're very brave and hope you will get better quickly.

I am 13 years old, and I am a Muslim. I was born in the UK, but my parents and my elder brother were born in Pakistan, and many of my relatives live there. I hope that you obtain the good education that you deserve. The Taliban are cowards to target a passionate young girl like you. I hope that someday all girls in Pakistan and other places have the opportunity to an education. Keep your head high, and keep smiling :)

...and teachers and mothers.

You are an amazing example of what determination and belief really are. My thoughts go out to you, and I hope you a speedy recovery. As a teacher I will be using you as an example of what youth can do to affect their world, thank you for your courage.

You are a great and brilliant little girl. I am a mother and I would be so proud to have a daughter like you. I hope you will soon be better and send you lots of love to you.

I was horrified when I heard about the attack. You have stood up for the rights of girls and women everywhere. I hope you and your friends recover quickly. Keep fighting, little sister x

These are just a few of the thousands of messages to the girls.

Malala your strength and determination for justice and equality in this world is beyond your years. If all people in this world had half the courage of you and your friends, we would be living in a more beautiful world. Hope you recover soon and are out of hospital and back with your family, who must be very proud of you. You give the rest of the world hope, thank you.

I read your story on the bbc, it made me cry at work. I still can't believe, firstly that you have to campaign for education, secondly that you would be shot for doing so. What you stand for and how you stand for it is amazing, your courage blows my mind.

No I am Malala Yousufzai!

Write your own message

Kainat's message for her friend

Kainat Riaz was shot in the hand by a bullet intended for her friend, Malala. Kainat was interviewed on the BBC World Service last week (it's really worth a listen). She described what happened on her school bus exactly one month ago:

"First we thought it was a joke, a story from a dream or something. When [the gunman] entered the bus, he asked 'Where is Malala? Who is Malala?' But anyone can recognise her, because we used to cover out faces, but she never covered her face.
And the moment she confessed that 'I am Malala' he opened fire, and with one bullet she was down. Then all of us got very, very scared."

Asked if she had a message for Malala, Kainat's reply is touchingly simple:

"Malala: head up, stay strong. Come back, so we’ll go to school together. You are my friend."

These are ordinary girls, who should be able to do things that girls most places do - hang out, go to school, share gossip. At fifteen I spent my time playing music, riding my bike, making up daft dance routines with my friends, and (often begrudgingly) going to school. 

But in Pakistan's Swat valley, girls become human rights defenders putting their life in danger when they speak out about their right to education. And that is a threat no one should have to endure. 

Which is why today - and every day - I am Malala.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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