On October 9th we learned just how dangerous it is in some parts of the world for young girls who desire education. When Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl was brutally shot in retaliation for promoting girls’ education in her country, the world took notice and leapt into action.
The United Nations’ Education Envoy, spearheaded by former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, teamed up with We Are Social in New York to amplify Malala’s voice.
When it comes to the issue of access to education, the numbers are startling; 32 million of the world’s school-aged girls do not get education, according to the United Nations. About 10% of those girls live in Pakistan. Pakistan has the third highest number of illiterate women in the world.
The mission: Amass 1 million signatures on a petition, asking Pakistan's government to provide all children in Pakistan with access to education. The petition would be presented to Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari during Gordon Brown’s trip to the country on November 10th. To commemorate the day, the United Nations declared November 10th Malala Day in honor of the fearless young lady.
We Are Social leveraged a global network of women’s rights activists, child welfare advocates and humanitarians with strong online presences to do so. These influencers are dedicated to using social media as a conduit to educate and activate others around these issues.
We identified blog and Twitter heavyweights. We measured social media reach and influence, and qualitatively assessed relevance to the mission. Once we identified our core influencers, we began the outreach effort, sharing Malala’s story, her journey and the purpose of this campaign.
Influencers were invited to sign the Education Envoy’s petition and activate their networks and communities to do the same by creating online conversations to spread awareness. They shared the campaign message and links to the petition in discussions with their audiences across blogs, Twitter and Facebook, furthering awareness about Malala’s efforts and the global initiative to provide all children access to education.
Leading up to Malala Day on November 10th and even after, influencers, celebrities and supporters used the #IAmMalala hashtag to join the conversation. On Malala Day alone, the #IAmMalala hashtag received 8,100 Twitter mentions.
Malala’s valor and fight resonated worldwide as more than 1 million people pledged support by signing the petition. Furthering the cause were a group of Pakistani school girls who collected 1.2 million signatures on a petition of their own.
Gordon Brown marked the day by presenting the petition to the Pakistani government. On the heels of Malala Day, Brown, the Pakistani government, the United Nations, the World Bank and other global organizations set an April 2013 deadline to map out a plan to provide education to all Pakistani children by 2015.
"There's a huge momentum now," Brown told CNN. "People are saying I was silent before but I'm not going to be silent as long as girls are denied an education."
Malala’s father Ziauddin Yousafzai has also been instrumental in bringing this day to fruition. Check out this heart-felt message from Ziauddin thanking everyone for their well wishes and support: