Girls Education : Muzoon Almellehan
Updated: Aug 10, 2020
History that Led Her to be an Advocate for Female Education
Muzoon Almellehan was born in the Syrian city of Daraa. Her country had been in war for two years and at the age of 14, her family had to flee their home and take refuge in camps in Jordan. While packing, her dad told her “Just bring what you need the most”, in the end, the only things she had packed were 10 of her schoolbooks. She believed that if she lost her education, she would be losing everything. At her camp, she lived in a tent with no electricity or internet, however, she found a glimmer of hope when she saw that there was a school. But when she went to her first class, she saw that many of the children she’d seen in the tents weren’t there. She quickly realized that some girls, even those as young as 13, were being married to men in the camp instead of coming to school—their families thought marriage would protect them. She also discovered there was this general attitude around the camp: “We’ve lost our homes and are refugees. It’s not our right to be educated.” This fueled her passion. She refused to accept that war could take everything. She truly believed that nothing can take away your knowledge. And as refugees she knew they needed education more than ever to face the challenges and suffering in their lives.This is when she began her mission.
Almellehan walked through the camp from tent to tent, to speak with parents about the value of education and the risks of early marriage. She urged them to send their daughters back to school, telling them “Girls must get an education, it’s the best protection for girls. If a mother is not educated, how can she help her children? If young people are not educated, who will rebuild our country?” She soon realized her voice was powerful and relief organizations began to take notice. Almellehan soon became a campaigner for UNICEF which gave her the ability to reach out to even more people.
In April 2017 Muzoon travelled to Chad with Unicef to meet refugee children forced to flee ongoing violence who are now attending Unicef-supported education projects. In July 2017 Muzoon attended the G20 Summit in Hamburg to represent Unicef and call on world leaders to prioritize education for the millions of children caught up in conflicts or disasters. Malala Yousafzai, a fellow advocate for women's education, reached out to her and said this of Almellehan, “She has faced so many difficulties in getting educated, but she remains totally committed. We want a Malala-Muzoon army to inspire young girls to stand up for their rights.” Today, she continues to work tightly with UNICEF to work on programs that will provide an education for girls.
Awards and Recognition
She was 19 years old when UNICEF appointed her as their Goodwill Ambassador
BBC’s list of 100 influential and inspirational women in 2017
TIME’s 30 Most Influential Teens of 2017
Teen Vogue’s 21 Under 21 Class of 2017
2017 Glamour Women of the Year Award.
Known as “The Malala of Syria”
Mertens, Maggie. “When Muzoon Almellehan Fled War-Torn Syria, She Only Brought One Thing-Her Schoolbooks.” Glamour, Glamour, 30 Oct. 2017, www.glamour.com/story/women-of-the-year-2017-muzoon-almellehan.
“Muzoon Almellehan.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 7 Feb. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muzoon_Almellehan#Biography.
“Muzoon Almellehan, Goodwill Ambassador.” Unicef UK, www.unicef.org.uk/celebrity-supporters/muzoon-almellehan/.
Writers: Ally So, Kenny Ngo