On Thursday, this brave 15-year old Afghan girl walked out of the hospital three months after being shot for saying that girls should receive an education. Amazing and still, sobering. We are inspired and at the same time reminded of the very different world she has grown up in.

At Prosperity Candle we try not to take a stance on issues relating to politics, faith, and questions like how we should be engaged in Afghanistan. It’s not that we don’t have strong opinions – we do – it’s simply that we believe our mission and work transcend different perspectives. Helping women rebuild their lives, war widows learn a trade to earn a living wage, and families escape poverty is universal. We’re not trying to change the world.  We’re working to change lives for the better.

We imagine most people would agree. But there are those who do not, as stories like Malala’s make clear. When a girl is attacked for wanting an education – something that should be a shared human right – we should all speak up. There are times when cultural context and religious differences need to be considered, but not here, not with Malala’s cause. It transcends everything.

It’s hard to believe, but not too long ago women were denied voting rights in this country. They could not pursue most professional careers, let alone expect equal pay. In education, we have fared better, but it has taken a long time to ensure equal access. Today, as a father of two young girls, I can’t imagine living in a community that didn’t provide the same opportunities for girls as for boys.

Malala’s story is a sobering reminder that in too many places and for billions of girls and women, opportunity is little more than a word. Denied to them are education, choosing to marry, pursuing a career, friendships. Self determination. Happiness.

We should all speak up.


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