On October 9, 2012, a man entered a school bus in Pakistan, approached a fifteen year old girl, and shot her in the face. This man was a member of the Taliban, a radical Islamic group that held power in Pakistan for many years. The girl was Malala Yousafzai. Miraculously, Malala survived, and now she is raising her voice around the world, continuing the activist work that made her a target for the Taliban in the first place. One might wonder what Malala possibly could have been campaigning for to anger the Taliban so much that they tried to kill her. Was she urging people to raise arms and fight against the Taliban? Was she publicly speaking out against Islam? No. The war that Malala was fighting for was her right to education.
To those of us lucky enough to have a right to education so solid that it seems impossible that others do not have it, Malala’s fight may seem unfathomable. However, her story is all too common. Around the world, most prominently in developing countries, women are denied the right to education. Girls drop out of school to be married off at a young age, are forced to stay home for religious reasons, or are harassed so badly by their schoolmates that they choose to leave. Many countries have no laws guaranteeing women an education, and many that have such laws do not enforce them. In many countries, girls are denied an education on the sole basis of their gender.
Since Malala’s recovery, she has been tirelessly fighting for women’s right to a free secondary education. In 2012 she became the youngest recipient ever of the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts. However, she did not stop there. Since then, she has spoken in front of the UN, appeared on numerous talk-shows, and met with President Obama for her, “trade bullets for books”, campaign. As a result of her work, numerous girls’ schools in the Middle East have been opened, including those for child refugees of the Syrian War.
Malala’s next step of action is to release a documentary of her story; from her life in Pakistan, to her medical recovery, to her rise as an influence on world policy. This documentary, titled, “He Named Me Malala”, will be released in select US theaters on October 2. Sadly, none of those theaters are near Lasell. However, clubs on campus are petitioning to have the film screened here at Lasell sometime in November, so keep an eye out if you are interested in learning more about Malala and her global influence.
Until then, you can learn more about Malala by visiting Malala.org, or following her on social media.
“I raise my voice not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. We cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” -Malala Yousafzai