Most 17-year-olds spend their birthdays agonizing about prom dates and SAT scores. But for Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, turning 17 meant traveling to Nigeria to advocate for 250 missing girls. Oh, and also having the U.N. declare the Monday after her birthday World Malala Day.
Malala, who was shot by the Taliban in 2012 for wanting to go to school, has since become an advocate for educating young girls around the world. Today, she is set to push Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan for more government action to rescue more than 200 schoolgirls who were kidnapped by terror group Boko Haram.
On Sunday, she met with the missing girls' parents, who risked their lives on a 20-hour trek to meet with her. She also met with five Nigerian girls her age who had escaped their kidnappers. The other girls have not been found after 90 days in the forest.
Boko Haram released a video this week that appeared to mock the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. The group's leader said the schoolgirls would not be freed until Nigeria's government released extremists from jail.
But Malala had her own strong words for the terrorists. "[They are] misusing the name of Islam" by denying girls the right to education, she said in a BBC interview. "They should think about their own sisters and they should release those girls," she told ABC News.
She urged supporters to share messages of strength online, using the hashtag #strongerthan. "I say I am stronger than fear. I am stronger than violence...I am stronger than every kind of thing that stops me from getting an education," she told ABC.