M Stands for Master Minds and Moving Voices

She was born in 1997. He was born in 1918. She is a Pakistani activist. He was a South African one. Although belonging to two different generations, they have so much in common, let alone the big parts of their names: MALALA and MANDELA. The two Moving Master Minds are both recognized as human rights advocates whose actions and voices, while putting their own lives at risk, helped shape a better world and made them Nobel Peace Prize winners. Both Malala and Mandela Days are celebrated in July.

One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.

/Malala Yousafzai/

“I am Malala”

12th July, the date celebrated as Malala Day, is of great significance to Malala’s Story for two reasons: she was born in Mingora, Pakistan on 12th July 1997 and, 16 years later, on 12th July 2013, she spoke at the United Nations calling for worldwide access to education. In between the years, some crucial events, including her becoming a BBC blogger describing her life in Pakistan controlled by the Taliban, took place that greatly influenced the young girl’s life. When female education was banned in the area, Malala started advocating for girls’ right to education. Her growing activism led to a murder attempt: on 9th October 2012 Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman  who was reported to ask a group of Pakistani girls travelling together on the bus, “Which of you is Malala?”

Having recovered from the shot, the 16-year-old girl gave a speech at the UN stating that Malala day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights.” These are also the events she presented in her autobiographical book “I am Malala: the Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.”  At 17, Malala Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize being the youngest Nobel laureate.

Mandela Day

“Nelson Mandela is physically separated from us, but his soul and spirit will never die. He belongs to the whole world because he is an icon of equality, freedom and love, the values we need all the time everywhere.” /Malala Yousafzai/

The above words were spoken by Malala upon Nelson Mandela’s death in 2013. Calling him her leader, Malala admitted she had learnt a  lot from him whom she perceived as ‘a perpetual inspiration’ both for herself and the whole world.

In recognition of Mandela’s fight for human rights, freedom and peace, the UN General Assembly declared 18th July Nelson Mandela International Day.  2022 theme, “Do what you can, with what you have, wherever you are,” refers to Mandela’s wish not to celebrate his birthday but to take action to inspire change.

Teaching with Icons

Understanding the importance of teaching by setting an example, Europeana Educators have prepared numerous learning scenarios, based on the lives of iconic figures, which can be used in your classroom to guide your students on how to become change agents. We Give Peace a Chance is a scenario created on the basis of Malala’s and Anne Frank’s stories promoting actions for peace. We Have the Right To… is a must if you want your students to reflect on the people who have inspired the human rights movement. Among the learning scenarios referring to great achievements by great inspirational women you can find Women in Science as Role Models, Sensium – Helen Keller – 3D Printing in a Friction Lab, Influential Women in Technology or Drina, an Iconic Woman. Also, have a look at Chopin, Einstein, Picasso as Migrant Stars to combine stories of world-renowned creators with STEAM methodology.

Finally, if you are interested in further Europeana resources devoted to the theme of famous people whose talents and creativity may constitute meaningful inspiration for young people why don’t you check out the People collection? Explore, with your students, the works by creative minds: authors, painters, musicians, composers, scientists, sculptors and other artists and use them to educate the young generation.

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

/Nelson Mandela/

Interested in Europeana? You can also read:

By Katarzyna Siwczak, Europeana Education Ambassador

CC BY 4.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Wellcome Collection.

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