Monday, July 15, 2013

The Girl Who Reads, Speaks and Survives

By Julie Baldwin

July 12 has officially been named "Malala Day" in honor of Malala Yousafzai, a now-16-year-old girl who was shot by the Taliban in an assassination attempt for going to school in October 2012. The New York Times reported,
On Tuesday, masked Taliban gunmen answered Ms. Yousafzai’s courage with bullets, singling out the 14-year-old on a bus filled with terrified schoolchildren, then shooting her in the head and neck. Two other girls were also wounded in the attack. All three survived, but late on Tuesday doctors said that Ms. Yousafzai was in critical condition at a hospital in Peshawar, with a bullet possibly lodged close to her brain. 
A Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, confirmed by phone that Ms. Yousafzai had been the target, calling her crusade for education rights an “obscenity.” 
“She has become a symbol of Western culture in the area; she was openly propagating it,” Mr. Ehsan said, adding that if she survived, the militants would certainly try to kill her again. “Let this be a lesson.”
This did not discourage the girl who wants to be a doctor. She spoke at the United Nations on Friday, July 12, 2013, in support of universal and compulsory education for all as a way to "wage a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism and let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons."

Malala Yousafzai, age 16, at the United Nations
She said,
Dear fellows, today I am focusing on women’s rights and girls’ education because they are suffering the most. There was a time when women social activists asked men to stand up for their rights. But, this time, we will do it by ourselves. I am not telling men to step away from speaking for women’s rights rather I am focusing on women to be independent to fight for themselves.  
Dear sisters and brothers, now it's time to speak up.  
So today, we call upon the world leaders to change their strategic policies in favour of peace and prosperity.  
We call upon the world leaders that all the peace deals must protect women and children’s rights. A deal that goes against the dignity of women and their rights is unacceptable.  
We call upon all governments to ensure free compulsory education for every child all over the world. 
We call upon all governments to fight against terrorism and violence, to protect children from brutality and harm. 
We call upon the developed nations to support the expansion of educational opportunities for girls in the developing world.  
We call upon all communities to be tolerant – to reject prejudice based on cast, creed, sect, religion or gender. To ensure freedom and equality for women so that they can flourish. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back. 
We call upon our sisters around the world to be brave – to embrace the strength within themselves and realise their full potential.  
Dear brothers and sisters, we want schools and education for every child’s bright future. We will continue our journey to our destination of peace and education for everyone. No one can stop us. We will speak for our rights and we will bring change through our voice. We must believe in the power and the strength of our words. Our words can change the world. 
Because we are all together, united for the cause of education. And if we want to achieve our goal, then let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.
Let us remember to stand up for women whose voice is silenced, and to support people who feel like they have no choice. There is still so much work that needs to be done for women's dignity and rights, and education is the most important. With an education, women can pursue their dreams more fully. With an education, women can teach their children, their communities, and the world around them better. With an education, women can better recognize and fight against wrongs. With an education, anything is possible.

Malala and women in her region of the world still have a long way to go. Terrorists are using brute force, aimed to kill, to silence anyone who goes against their regime. But this is not what will shape the world. The world is shaped by young women like Malala, who speak out in the best interest of people, who seek peace and love, and who will use education for the good of others.

The goodness of the world is portrayed by this young women. Let us heed her words, pray for her and others suffering oppressing and a lack of education, and work towards helping those in need.

Malala Day is dedicated to the education of all children worldwide. But it is so, so, so much more than that. As Malala said,
Dear brothers and sisters, do remember one thing. Malala Day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights. There are hundreds of Human rights activists and social workers who are not only speaking for human rights, but who are struggling to achieve their goals of education, peace and equality. Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions have been injured. I am just one of them. 
So here I stand.... one girl among many. 
I speak – not for myself, but for all girls and boys. 
I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. 
Those who have fought for their rights: 
Their right to live in peace. 
Their right to be treated with dignity. 
Their right to equality of opportunity. 
Their right to be educated. 
Dear Friends, on the 9th of October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends too. They thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed. And then, out of that silence came, thousands of voices. The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. My dreams are the same. 
Dear sisters and brothers, I am not against anyone. Neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorists group. I am here to speak up for the right of education of every child. I want education for the sons and the daughters of all the extremists especially the Taliban. 
God bless you Malala, and thank you.

More resources:
Women's Education Project - Helping women abroad in their education
World Education - Helping women develop socially and economically
Polaris Project - Helping women in and affected by the sex trafficking industry

1 comment:

  1. Despite our country's many shortcomings, we have educated our daughters, and we've done it well.


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