Malala uses birthday to ask for Nigerian schoolgirls' safe return

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Malala uses birthday to ask for schoolgirls' safe return
Malala, the Taliban attack survivor turned activist, is celebrating her birthday by calling for the safe return of Nigerian schoolgirls held by Islamic extremists.

Pakistani human rights activist Malala Yousafzai is in Nigeria, hoping to help secure the release of more than 200 girls still being held by a terrorist group. She met with the country's president Monday. He promised her that he would meet with the parents of some of the 219 girls held by the Boko Haram.

Malala spoke exclusively with ABC's Amy Robach about her meeting with the president of Nigeria.

The teen has proven she is stronger than a bullet after surviving a Taliban attack less than two years ago. Her story of survival and determination to help all young girls get an education has inspired so many.

Now, celebrating her 17th birthday in Nigeria, she is asking others to share their strength with a YouTube video and the hashtag #StrongerThan.

"We want to say that we are 'stronger than,'" she said. "So I say that I am stronger than fear. I am stronger than violence. I am stronger than terrorism. I am stronger than every kind of thing that stops me from getting education. So we invite you to share your feelings and say what are you stronger than. And I am hopeful that everyone will say that we are stronger than any kind of violence and fear."

Her message gives much needed hope to the families of the more than 200 missing girls in Nigeria. Several of the young women who escaped from Boko Haram told us they too are stronger than their fear.

A girl named Rebecca tells ABC News she will go back to school if they admit her, even though she's afraid, because she still wants to learn.

Meanwhile 17-year-old Kauna tells us she is still too scared to go to school, saying she doesn't even want to see a book because it reminds her of what happened.

Amy: "But one day you want to go back to school?"

Kauna: "Yes."

Amy: "What would you like to study?"

Kauna: "I want to be a doctor."

When asked about the importance of hope, Malala answered, "Well hope is very important, it is hope that is keeping me 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."

And with this new social initiative, Malala hopes to empower people not just here in Africa, but across the globe.

"There are so many issues around the world," she said. "So I want to speak up for the girls in Nigeria. I want to speak up for those who are homeless in Pakistan. I want to speak up for peace in Iraq and many other countries. So I have many many dreams and I have many many goals. I hope that people will support me and people will support me in this campaign to see every child going to school and to see peace."

How you can help:

* Sign up at to add your voice to the fight for girls education

* Support Malala Day on social media with photos using the hashtag #IAmMalala or #StrongerThan or #BringBackOurGirls

* Share Malala's #StrongerThan video

* Share Malala's social community

* Donate at