On April 12, 2017, I had the opportunity to meet Malala Yousafzai at the Parliament in Ottawa, along with eight other young talented women from Quebec and Ontario. We were invited to see Malala receive her Canadian honorary citizenship, which only five other people have received before her. It was an incredible honour and privilege to be part of this amazing experience in person, and I wanted to share a little bit of that once in a lifetime experience here.
While growing up, I saw Malala speak about education rights for all, especially young women living in vulnerable communities, and was so inspired by her words and commitment to making sure that everyone gets access to equal opportunities. Growing up in Pakistan, she witnessed her fair share of injustices towards women going to school, and even faced horrible consequences for speaking her mind on this issue. However, this never stopped her from persevering and continuing to fight for what she believed in. She continues to motivate and encourage our generation of world changers for the better.
So when I was told that I would actually be meeting her in person at the House of Commons, I couldn’t believe it, and was absolutely thrilled. She has always been a role model of mine, especially while growing up in a house that put great emphasis on education. My father always pushed me to study hard and get an education so that I could go far in life, and have more options available in the long run. He didn’t care what my brothers and I would study, as long as we were passionate about our degrees. His advice was the best thing anyone could ask for, and it’s exactly what I did. I studied hard, and graduated recently with a Masters of Anthropology. I am so blessed with the opportunities that have arisen because of that hard work, and meeting Malala was definitely one of the biggest highlights of my life thus far.
Malala was extremely charming and delightful to meet in person. She was also very funny and down to earth, which was a side of her I did not know of. Seeing her in person was an emotional rollercoaster for the other eight girls and I. She made us feel all sorts of sentiments during her twenty-minute speech. We were crying at moments, and laughing unconditionally at others. Overall, we were incredibly moved by her compassion and love for education. She is still incredibly young, and it’s exciting to see what the future holds in store for her, and I truly believe that she will continue to accomplish great things in her life, and push others to do so as well. Ultimately, she is a Rockstar!