Was Malala Yousafzai just another advocator for girls education in the middle east or was she truly willing to risk everything? Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl who won a Nobel prize at the age of 17 for her actions in Pakistan from 2009-2014 is widely regarded as a true advocate for a women’s right to education and has gone above and beyond to speak her mind. However, despite the grand celebration of her struggles in Pakistan the people there do not support her, or at least are not very open about it as they risk the might of the Taliban that rules over most of their lives where she grew up. 

Malala began her rise to fame from a blog for the BBC that was to cover the Pakistani Taliban’s growing influence in Swat (where she lived) that her father signed her up for. This put her and her family at risk of death if the Taliban were to find out, but Malala kept writing the blog with the approval of her father and recapped the important events that occurred, mainly, the prohibiting of women going to school after January 15, 2009 (Peer). This blog she kept up inspired journalist Adam B. Ellick made a New York Times documentary that gave Malala a line of interviews for television and news articles across the globe.

Malala during the ban wrote: “Our annual exams are due after the vacations but this will only be possible if the Pakistani Taliban allow girls to go to school. We were told to prepare certain chapters for the exam but I do not feel like studying.” In the face of the Taliban bombing schools and killing people who oppose them, she shows that she still thinks about her education. But the schools did reopen for girls (all the girls only schools were still banned or destroyed) and the Taliban were supposedly working an agreement with the government to end the fighting but fighting only grew worse. Malala in these hard times spoke out against the Taliban on the national current affairs show Capital Talk 3 days before it was announced that the ban on female education would be lifted (BBC News).

Malala’s family was soon displaced as the war was raging harder than before, her family stayed to protest while she was sent to live with relatives, quoted saying: “I’m really bored because I have no books to read” knowing that her education meant everything to her and her family even in those desperate and unsure times. While there, Malala’s father received a death threat over the radio and that’s when the girl who always wanted to be a doctor began to openly speak about becoming a politician as her father always wanted (Ellick). From 2009 to 2010 she was the chair of the District Child Assembly of the Khpal Kor Foundation through 2009 and 2010 and by 2011 she began training with local girls’ empowerment organisation, to get advice on women’s rights and empowerment to peacefully oppose radicalisation through education as a way to help her stand up for what she believes in. Yet, for all of the work she’s done in private life (the classes and schooling) and public (tv and newspapers) she lost the international children’s peace prize to Michaela Mycroft.

October of 2012 was the last month Malala would be in Pakistan for the next 6 years. It was month that a Taliban gunman would get on her school bus and shoot a single bullet into her head. She survived the shooting and began a long recovery lasting until january of 2013 when she was released from the hospital but continued to have some major surgeries that took a long time to heal for about the next 6 months. This awful situation was widely covered by the media and her story was spread throughout the world and became a symbol of peace and dedication to a cause. At least for the rest of the world,the Taliban and some extreme political parties in Pakistan claimed that Malala was being brainwashed by her father and some even claimed the shooting was staged so she could gain popularity for her cause (the News). The members of the Taliban that were suspected to be the gunman that stopped the bus were released from trial based on a lack of evidence after having two girls on the bus give their testimonies to the events that happened only a few minutes before. 

Malala remains an active advocate for the education of women across the globe while also pursuing the higher education she always wanted as a child. Upon her return to Pakistan the region she visited declared it “I am not Malala Day” as a direct form of protest against her push for change in the country. She declared that “I am proud of my religion, and I am proud of my country,” despite the hateful sentiment. And in August of 2019 she again pushed for change claiming that she spoke to Kashmiri girls that claimed they were sad they weren’t allowed to take their exams on August 12, the day of a national holiday in which no classes would be held, and has received hate and controversy since.

Peer, Basharat (10 October 2012). “The Girl Who Wanted To Go To School”. The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 12 October 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2020.

Adam B. Ellick (2009). Class Dismissed. The New York Times (documentary). Archived from the original on 11 October 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2020.

“Pakistan media condemn attack on Malala Yousafzai”. BBC News. 9 October 2012. Archived from the original on 22 April 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2020.

“Child Assembly ensures a voice for youth affected by crises in Swat, Pakistan”. Archived from the original on 12 October 2020.

“TTP labels Malala as ‘an American spy'”. The News. 16 October 2012. Archived from the original on 22 March 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2020.
Huma Yusuf (18 July 2013). “About the Malala Backlash”. The New York Times. Archived from the original on 19 October 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2020.

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