At age fourteen, I, like many of my peers, was busy figuring out the world of adolescence, making sense of body changes and navigating the tumultuous teenage years where things like boys and make up took centre stage. We were lucky. Or so we thought. Education was a right and we took that for granted. We couldn’t wait to escape the walls of school and go do random silly things like shopping and talk about mundane things that were so pivotal to our world. Issues of rights, womens’ or children’s did not feature much on our radar, if at all, those were topics for our parents to discuss. Even though the world around us was affected and shaped by such matters, we paid them no mind because our imaginations were diverted by trivial pursuits.
At 14 years old, Malala Yousafzai knows different. Her story is already inspiring, her ideals, extraordinary and they will shape many generations for years to come. She campaigns for Girls’ right to education in Pakistan and has written a blog diary for the BBC on life in a society under the influence of the Taliban. On the 9th of October 2012, Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman as she returned home from school. He approached the school van in which she was a passenger, asked for Malala by name and shot her three times upon identification, and two others in the process. According to the Taliban, Malala was shot for spreading “secularism.” They saw her advocacy for girls’ education as a defiance against them, but hers is a voice that will not be silenced.
The Taliban’s terrifying influence in Swat valley, where Malala resides, enables them to enforce rules that expressly forbids girls attending school, shopping, wearing coloured clothes etc, but Malala and a few of her peers managed to attend school discreetly, with books hidden in their shawls, often in fear for their lives and wondering if they would be able to return term after term. Malala’s father is also an advocate for education; he is a school principal and a teacher, and like his daughter, believes education is for all, a right.
Although Malala’s bravery has been acknowledged- she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize and presented with the National Peace Award by the Pakistani government- the recognition and accolades are but asides in the grand scheme of her plight- Education for all Girls in Pakistan.
This was not Western propagated action against the Taliban, neither was it aided by covert operations of any kind. This was a little girl speaking up for her right and fighting against the wrongs that threaten it from within her community. Yet in so many ways, this is a revolutionary issue, one that calls to ALL, regardless of sex, religion or political affiliations, to stand up and fight with the women and children of Pakistan as they stand together to fight for their rights and condemn the perpetrators of this heinous act. They stand and fight for brave Malala. We all stand as one.
In an era where mightier men have used weapons to destroy many lives in a series of ongoing and senseless battles that plague our world today, it is the bravery of a 14 year old girl that is winning the war .
Please remember Malala in your prayers.