When I read about Malala Yousufzai in the paper the other day I broke down crying. So much of her story is just heartbreaking.
Malala Yousufzai is a 14 year old Pakistani schoolgirl who angered the Taliban by being vocal about bringing “Western”-style education to her area for all girls. In 2009, Swat Valley, where Malala lives, the closure of girls’ schools was ordered. Malala, who was 11 at the time, began a blog for the BBC under an alias. Later she began a campaign for girls’ education which brought her both Pakistan’s highest civilian honour as well as threats from the Taliban.
When Malala refused to stop speaking out for her cause and against the Taliban they sent two men to kill her. She was shot in both the head and the neck and now lies unconscious in the hospital.
This brave young girl was targeted all because she had dared to advocate for a basic human right. This is all too reminiscent of the fight for African Americans to receive good education in the early 1900s. It astonishes me that such a young girl would have to risk her life and her families live. It astonishes me that adult men could behave that way and bully a little girl.
This brutal attack happened because a 14 year old girl refused to give in to her bullies because she knew that she stood for hundreds of thousands of other young schoolgirls in Pakistan yearning to get an education.
It is stories like these that make me grateful to have been born in Canada and that my daughter will have the benefit of living in a nation where every opportunity is available to her as a female and as a multiracial female at that. We are very lucky here in the West for the most part.
I cannot even begin to imagine being told at 11 years old that I would not be allowed to go to school. I cannot say that I would have been brave enough or even ambitious enough to take the steps she did to fight for her right for an education. I would hope so though.
The sad thing is that Pakistan is not even close to being the only nation where women still fight for basic rights.
“When we talk of poverty, poverty is not only lack of money or maybe
food, but it is also when women and girls lack the opportunity to express themselves, that is also poverty.”
Did You Know: 2/3 of the children denied education are female, and 75% of the world’s illiterate adult population are women? (AskaWoman.org)
Malala’s words should give all Girls and Women the strength to ensure that Bullies cannot determine their lives:
“I have rights. I have the right of education. I have the right to play. I have the right to sing. I have the right to talk. I have the right to go to market. I have the right to speak up.”
What you Can Do: Thankfully there are many organisations working world-wide to secure human rights for women. I found a great list of on womensrightsworldwide.org to get you started.