Here's why Mazoun Almellehan is being called "The Malala of Syria"
We are all in a perpetual state of awe when it comes to Malala Yousafzai, a girl who became a household name (and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate) for her fight to bring education to the girls of Pakistan. We need more Malalas in the world, girls who will stand up and fight for the rights of other girls. Fortunately, it looks like we have another young woman joining Malala’s ranks. Meet Mazoun Almellehan, a 16-year old Syrian girl who is working in Jordanian refugee camps to ensure that the girls of the camps are getting the education they deserve.
Mazoun is a resident of these camps where she engages in activism. As CNN reports, she and her family fled their home country of Syria in 2013 as a result of Syria’s ongoing civil war. Life in the camps is understandably difficult, and as a result, many young Syrian women are marrying before they turn 18 as a means of ensuring security. In fact, as a UNICEF report reveals, nearly a third of Syrian girls in the Jordanian refugee camps become brides before they turn 18. Mazoun is passionate about getting these girls to stay in school and to see education as an alternative to early marriage, and so, for the past two years, she has been making her rounds through the camps, family by family, doing everything she can to persuade parents to hold off on marriage and see continuing education as a real option.
“Education is very important because it’s the shield we can use to protect ourselves in life,” Mazoun explained to CNN. “It’s our method to solve our problems. If we don’t have education, we can’t defend ourselves.”
Mazoun’s activism has earned her the moniker “The Malala of Syria,” and, in fact, Malala and Mazoun actually know each other! Malala visited Mazoun in her camp, and Mazoun flew to Europe to cheer Malala on when Malala was awarded her Nobel Prize.
“I’m so proud to be called the ‘Malala of Syria,'” Mazoun told CNN. “Malala’s a very dedicated, strong person who faced huge difficulties in her life trying to promote education. So that gives me a huge motivation to do more.”
We’re so glad to know there’s another Malala out there working hard to make schooling accessible to girls who might otherwise go without the education they deserve. We are so inspired by these young women and we can’t wait to meet the next Malala and the next Mazoun.