Shot Heard 'Round the World

At one time or another, we've all heard these famous words used to allude to an extraordinary event that shatters our view of life and of the world. American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson penned the iconic phrase in 1837 for an Independence Day dedication of the Battle Monument in Massachusetts commemorating the start of the American Revolution in 1775. This line from Emerson's hymn echoed in my mind last year when 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai was targeted by Taliban militants for her outspoken views on gender equality and education.

A couple of weeks ago I was captivated as I watched Malala address the United Nations as part of Malala Day. I wondered to myself what Emerson would think about his hymn, almost two hundred years later, being the battle cry of a 16-year-old Pakistani girl advocating for universal primary education and equality for girls. Despite the injuries she suffered and her painful recovery, Malala is still waging a battle for peace, forgiveness and tolerance.

It's hard to believe that less than a year later the horrific footage of an unconscious Malala being whisked away on a canvas stretcher could be replaced by a more powerful image. Malala, composed, humble and confident addressing the Secretary General of the U.N., speaking for those who have no voice. This is now the picture forever etched onto the consciousness of our global community. What was once a tragic event is now the catalyst of what promises to be change to the global landscape.

Despite the Taliban's continuing threats against her, the teenage activist remains undeterred in her vision. The halo effect of her message continues to expand. Documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim who explored the U.S. education system in Waiting for Superman and also won an Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth is set to direct a feature length documentary called I Am Malala. In the fall, the Malala Fund, will be launched to help girls go to school. I am proud to be one of the benefactors of the fund that will invest in providing quality education for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Not surprisingly, Malala, who has the distinction of being the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, has received a record number of nominations with 246 votes.

On that fateful day last October, the shot fired at Malala was indeed heard around the world. Today as she points out, a thousand voices have emerged to support her and her global cause because we do know that one book and one pen can change the world.