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Malala Joins Instagram to Celebrate Her 21st Birthday

As a passionate activist for education and a Nobel Prize winner, sometimes it’s easy to forget that Malala Yousafzai is still a university student in her early twenties. And the Pakistani powerbroker, who survived a Taliban assassination attempt when she was just 15, marked her milestone 21st birthday on July 12, joining social media platform Instagram to celebrate. The Oxford University student uploaded her first picture as she spent her big day in Brazil. “I turned 21 today in Brazil. So happy to spend my birthday in this beautiful country with amazing girls,” she also posted on Twitter.

However, this was not just a sunny vacation for Yousafzai, who instead spent her birthday fighting for one of her key passions – girls’ rights to education. While in Salvador, Bahia, it was announced that the activist’s eponymous organization, the Malala Fund, is investing in girls’ education in Brazil. “More than 1.5 million girls are out of school in this country – and they deserve the chance to choose their own future,” Yousafzai wrote on Twitter. “In my time here, I’ve met many girls facing racism, poverty and violence. Because of these issues 1.5 million Brazilian girls – mostly indigenous and Afro-Brazilian girls – are not in school and they don’t feel safe. Malala Fund is investing around US$700,000 in education activists in Brazil. We want to help them ensure that every girl in this country gets 12 years of free, safe, quality education.”

The initiative is supported by Malala Fund’s collaboration with Apple, and will see Apple Developer Academy students and alumni design and develop apps that enhance education opportunities for girls in Brazil. “We share Malala’s goal of getting more girls into quality education,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Apple has been committed to education since day one, and we can’t wait to see what our creative student developers come up with to help Malala Fund make a difference for girls around the world.” The partnership between Yousafzai, the world’s youngest Nobel laureate, and Cook was first announced in January, with the pair revealing they were working together to help 100,000 young women in need of secondary school education in countries including Lebanon, Afghanistan, Turkey and Pakistan.

Yousafzai, who is also the youngest-ever United Nations Messenger of Peace, was targeted by the Taliban in 2012, after speaking out about girls’ rights to attend school. The activist, who is now based in the UK, dedicated her 21st birthday to those in need of education, tweeting that her “birthday wish is that all girls can have access to safe and quality education”. In fact, Yousafzai has made a tradition out of marking her birthday in nations when access to education isn’t alway guaranteed, such as Iraq and Kenya. “Every year on my birthday I travel to meet girls who are struggling to go to school, to stand with them and to make sure the world hears their stories,” she wrote in a blog post in 2016.

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