By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – During a visit to Brazil this week, Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for her fight to defend girls’ education, celebrated her 21st birthday at Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf) in Rio de Janeiro with young dancers from a social project of Complexo do Alemão.
For the Instagram account of the Malala Foundation, the young woman posted a photo of dancers who participate in the social project Na Ponta dos Pés.
The post read, “Malala spent her 21st birthday at Sugar Loaf in Rio, where a young team of dancers showed off their ballet skills – and shared how dance helps them stay in school and overcome violence in the most dangerous favelas in Brazil.”
For security reasons, Malala’s agenda is not released to the press, according to a government news agency. When she was fifteen, she was attacked by Taliban groups and has since moved to England.
An American youtuber and journalist from Chicago living in Rio, Kiratiana Freelon, shares, “I didn’t see her in Rio, but I’m glad she came. I really liked the image that she did of Marielle Franco.”
According to an Agencia Brasil report, on Twitter Yousafzai interacted with Brazilian personalities this week, such as football (soccer) legend Pelé, singer Ivete Sangalo and the writings Paulo Coelho, through the hashtag # AskMalala / # AskAmala.
Pelé asked how the sport can help the girls get the chance they deserve and Yousafzai replied that she met wonderful beach soccer players in Rio de Janeiro who told her they have in football a way to deal with life’s difficulties. Yousafzai said it was necessary to support female athletes so girls have role models to inspire.
Ivete Sangalo asked about the activist’s experience in Salvador, and Malala said she loved the city. “We spent a lot of time walking the streets, meeting people, learning about their stories and listening to incredible music,” she said.
Paulo Coelho praised her work as an example for children, adolescents and adults. Yousafzai responded that the writer’s words inspired her many years ago and that often, when they ask her favorite book, she answers that it is The Alchemist. She also said she was honored to be “in your beautiful country”.
Malala Yousafzai held a lecture in São Paulo on Monday (July 9th), and the next day, she also announced support for three Brazilian activists struggling for education. Before arriving in Rio de Janeiro, the activist had also visited Salvador.