Maria Fernanda Gandara is a 24 years old BA in Architecture Candidate at Tecnologico de Monterrey. It was in 2010 when Hurricane Alex hit Monterrey that she saw the impact she could print on a needy society. She decided to make a career in social development and became the most accomplished student of a program called Leadership for Social and Sustainable Development where she learned methodologies to design and evaluate social impact projects and became a Social Development Consultant. She worked in CSR at Sigma Alimentos and as an answer of Mexico's statistics of childhood obesity she designed and implemented a project that promoted healthy lifestyles in children of low-income communities, the employees of the company are now replicating the final model of the project in different sites. In September 2011 Maria was sponsored by American Express to be Mexico’s Delegate in One Young World Zurich 2011, since then she is one of the most active ambassadors of this world known summit for young global leaders. In September 2011 she was honored to become a member of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Community. In October 2011 started to coordinate Dignity Days in private and public schools where she has been empowering kids with Dignity while collaborating with different organizations, in March 2012 she was honored as Monterrey's City Chair for Global Dignity. On the 21st of February 2012 she coordinated in Mexico Wake Up Call a global call for leaders to take action for positive change where she joined 84 countries by addressing the presidential candidates and achieving thousands of followers across the country. It was in April 2012 when Maria was selected to participate in the World Economic Forum on Latin America 2012 where she was the youngest participant attending the event that had place in Puerto Vallarta Mexico. From December 2011 to January 2013 Maria worked at IGNIA an impact investing venture capital firm that supports the founding and expansion of high growth social enterprises that provide quality goods and services to the base of the socio-economic pyramid in Mexico. In October 2012 she was sponsored by Monterrey's Youth Institute to attend the third edition of One Young World in Pittsburgh where she coordinated different Breakout and Night Owl Sessions. In March 2013 she was featured in the UK edition of Vanity Fair with Professor Muhammad Yunus and David Jones and led the only Mexican team of social entrepreneurs that participated in the 2013 edition of the Hult Prize a prize that has been named by TIME one of the Top 5 initiatives to change the world and by BusinessWeek the Nobel Prize for Business Schools. Recently, Maria spent 6 weeks in Silicon Valley studying at Draper University an unconventional world-class boarding school created by venture capitalist Tim Draper for the brightest young entrepreneurs from around the world.
Malala is a 14-year-old schoolgirl from Pakistan that was shot in the head by the Taliban on October 9 for speaking up for girls right to education. But why the Taliban directly attacked a girl from a picturesque valley called SWAT. Malala a girl with vision that started her career at the early age of 11 is now in the headlines of the world’s news while her life and her dreams are in danger.
We have to understand Malala’s life to realize why she got to be the most wanted prey for the Taliban. Since years she has been known for her bright mind and her work as youth, education and women’s right activist. Recently the Taliban has banned girl’s attendance to school and Malala decided to stand up because as thousands of girls that were affected she wanted to go to school. Consequently, the Taliban called her work an obscenity and saw her as a symbol of the western culture, as she represented the aim of girls in the world that want to have an education and opportunities to accomplish their dreams in life. That’s why the Taliban wanted to give her and the world a lesson, because they think girls don’t deserve to be educated as they threaten their regime.
In addition, she is known for being a girl with vision that has been able to achieve an enormous impact not just in her country but also around the world. Since she was 11 she knew even more than adults in her community that her voice mattered and decided to speak and to represent the courage that her generation needed. Without fear and by believing in herself she started her career, which is highlighted by her participation as an anonymous blogger for the BBC where she used the byline name “Gul Makai”. In this blog she posted about her daily life challenges under the Taliban. One day she wrote that she had a dream that was very close to what happened on October 9 when she was on her way to school. Malala’s activism has helped her on having the opportunity to represent her movement in institutions like Unicef and has been recognized by prices like the International Children’s Peace Price and the National Youth Prize. Malala’s friends have been sharing that she wants now to be a politician but unfortunately now her career is being threatened and with her career the dreams of millions of girls around the world.
The UN has called November 10 as the day of Malala and the other 32 million girls that can’t go to school, as this is a relevant topic for the accomplishment of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals. On this day we all can be Malala, saying “I am Malala” will mean that you care about Malala and girls education around the world. Our involvement in this movement will first help girls in Pakistan to go back to school. But let’s go a little further, this day will be important for every girl that is living or that will be living in this planet. It’s our duty to be part of it.
For the first time in history there is a fight for girls going on; end of child marriage, education, opportunities and health for girls are topics that are being discussed in every corner of the world. Now that Malala is in the eyes of the world and it is the chance for us to stand up. This is the time when we should start speaking, tweeting and posting about Malala. It is the time to share her story and to contribute to her fight. Malala from a hospital in the UK is waiting for all of us to act.
The opportunity to ensure girls education around the world is here. Malala is a hero and a great example for all of us. We have to make sure that she goes back to school and that she continues the journey of getting closer to her dream, a world where girls and boys have the same rights.
We need to care about what’s going on in the world to make it a better place to live. We are all here, together. Malala Yousafzai was 11 when she started. When are we going to start? Malala’s key was that she had a strong cause, a big dream and a high belief that she can win the fight.
María has been invited to speak to different elementary schools, high schools, universities and organizations.
She loves to share her story and the experiences she has had in her journey to inspire other people to take action for positve change.
Her talks about leadership, dignity, activism, social impact, networking, social media and wisdom have taken place in clubs, classes, events and summits.