Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai is using her global influence to continue spreading awareness on the Nigerian schoolgirls still held in captivity by terrorist group Boko Haram.
Although 60 of the Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped in April managed to escape Boko Haram captors, there are more than 200 schoolgirls still in captivity and Malala wants to inspire optimism for the girls return. “We want to say that we are ‘stronger than,’” she said in an exclusive interview with ABC News. “So I say that I am stronger than fear. I am stronger than violence. I am stronger than terrorism.” Yousafzai has created a social media campaign using the hashtag #StrongerThan to show her support for the girl’s safe return home. First Lady Michelle Obama, who has used her own social media platform to spread awareness on the kidnapping, posted a photo using the #StrongerThan hashtag to thank Malala for her efforts and model Iman even showed her support.
Malala, who is also one of TIME 100’s “Most Influential People,” survived a bullet from a Taliban attack in 2012 and is lauded for her hope despite tragic obstacles to keep girls from education and independence. On July 12, 2013, she spent her 16th birthday speaking at the UN with a plea for worldwide access to education; the UN dubbed the date “Malala Day.” This year, all the teen wants for her birthday and “Malala Day,” is for her global “sisters” to come home.
“I can see those girls as my sisters, and I’m going to speak up for them until they are released,” she told a crowd of parents, Reuters reports. “I can feel… the circumstances under which you are suffering. It’s quite difficult for a parent to know that their daughter is in great danger.” “My birthday wish this year is… bring back our girls now, and alive,” she added.
“Hope is very important,” she said. “It is hope that is keeping me alive. It is hope that is making the fathers of those girls alive. And it is hope which is giving this strength to those girls who are in the abduction and it is hope that is giving strength to everyone in Nigeria.”