Only a few days ago, Malala Yousafzai was finishing her final high school exams. On Tuesday, she landed in Iraq to meet with displaced girls here who have spent years out of school. This is not how most young people spend the summer before college, but Yousafzai has become a champion of education rights for girls since the Taliban tried to kill her in 2012 in Pakistan.
“I want to ensure that there are more girls that can speak up and stand with me, because there’s nothing special in me…[I don’t] have some kind of special ability or talent,” Yousafzai said in an interview with TIME in the Hassan Shami camp for internally displaced people, just outside the newly liberated city of Mosul. “We need to encourage girls that their voice matters. I think there are hundreds and thousands of Malalas out there.”
Yousafzai is visiting Iraq as part of her ‘Girl Power Trip’, aiming to raise awareness about the importance of girls’ education, in particular visiting areas affected by poverty and conflict. “We were living in the same situation,” Yousafzai tells a dozen Iraqi schoolgirls seated at metal desks. “We were displaced in the Swat Valley [in Pakistan] for three months because of terrorism and extremism.”
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