BYUH ONE organization uses story of Malala to inspire students to speak up for world change

Written by: 
Daxon Levine

Members of ONE, an advocacy group on campus, presented the documentary “He Named Me Malala” on Thursday, March 10th in the Little Theater to inspire students to use their voices to make changes in the world.

“ONE works to end extreme poverty by changing policy,” said Rebecca Vigoren, a junior from Washington studying international cultural studies and the ONE President at BYUH. “We’re non-partisan, working with both Democrats and Republicans to pass bills to ensure that extreme poverty is getting tackled on the ground in third world countries.”

Vigoren recently returned from a trip to Washington, D.C. where she discussed the ONE campaign with other leaders. “ONE has partnered with The Malala Foundation to fight for women and girls to receive an education to lift them out of poverty as part of their campaign entitled ‘Poverty is Sexist’… Poverty sucks and women are hit the hardest because they are the first ones to be denied an education.”

Vigoren and the rest of the ONE organization on campus received the challenge from ONE in Washington, D.C. to show the documentary and spread awareness about extreme poverty and the role of education.
The documentary centers on Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Laureate in history, earning the Peace Prize in 2014 while only 17 years old. “She is an amazing, amazing girl,” said Vigoren. “We think that Malala is an amazing example of what one person can do with their voice to truly change the world. That is what Malala has done. She has come out of this small valley in Pakistan, gone forth, started her own foundation, inspired many women and girls to go back to school and fight for their right to education.”

Malala’s story is lined with opposition. Her efforts to help women and girls receive an education angered the Taliban. “When she was a young girl, she wanted to raise awareness and fought for her right to be educated and go to school,” said ONE member Stevie Gurr, a senior accounting major from Canada. “When she was 15, she was shot by the Taliban in an assassination attempt.”

The bullet hit the left side of Malala’s forehead, traveled through her face under the skin, and into her shoulder. For days, she remained unconscious in critical condition, but eventually had the strength to be transported from Pakistan to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in England for extensive rehabilitation.

“She challenged the Taliban in a way that no one has challenged the Taliban,” said Vigoren. “She didn’t use any guns, she didn’t use an army. And yet, the Taliban is afraid of her. She’s not even allowed back in Pakistan. She is winning. She is getting an education.”

After the failed assassination attempt and her road to recovery, Malala received international attention and support for her cause. In 2013, 2014, and 2015, she was listed as one of Time Magazine’s "The 100 Most Influential People in the World". Amid worldwide recognition, numerous prizes. Meeting with major world leaders, and awards, including the National Youth Peace Prize in 2011 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, Malala continues to go to school in Birmingham, England.

Katie Grayson, a senior studying international cultural studies from Texas, is not a ONE member and never heard of Malala before the documentary. “The posters said ‘One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.’ I figured it was something to do with education and empowerment, but I wasn’t really sure what it was,” she said. After watching the documentary on Malala’s life, Grayson stated, “You cannot downplay her bravery and her commitment and passion to try to do something about education for girls.”

As a young mother, Grayson said education means everything in her life. It’s extremely important. Raising children is one of the hardest things ever. Doing both is pretty hard. I think it’s important to be an example to my children to show them what I’m passionate about and what I want to do to change the world. I think leading by example is extremely important.”

“The ONE slogan is ‘Use Your Voice Change the World,’” said Vigoren. “That is what Malala is doing. She is fighting for all the women and the girls that are voiceless.”