On Sunday, Malala Yousufzai, the young Pakistani education activist who was shot in the head and neck by the Taliban in October, expressed her gratitude to people around the world.
Malala’s message was read by Anderson Cooper during the CNN Heroes ceremony in Los Angeles. The young girl not only thanked everyone who had expressed support for her, but she offered praise to the Pakistani girls living in northwestern Pakistan for having the courage to continue their studies despite receiving threats from the Taliban. Modestly, she turned the attention away from herself, by emphasizing that people actually should support her cause for global education, not her as an individual, and urged everyone to continue fighting for girls’ education worldwide.
Malala is still recovering from her shot in a hospital in the United Kingdom in what is considered a miracle recovery. She will have to undergo more surgery, when she regains her strengthen. After asking for her books to be brought to the hospital, the young Pakistani has delved into studying for her final exams, which she plans to take upon her return to Pakistan. Although the Taliban has threatened to attempt to kill her again, she remains unfazed by the threats and determined to continue fighting for her cause.
At any rate, the Taliban’s effort to suppress girls’ plight for education by shooting Malala backfired, as their violent attack on her has become a catalyzer for sustainable change in education and girls’ rights in Pakistan and globally. It seems that the world needed a figure like Malala, a relentless and fearless fighter for girls’ education who had the courage to stand up for her rights no matter the consequences, in order to feel outraged by the state of education and start truly caring about promoting access to education for all.
Some positive results rapidly followed her shooting. In November, Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy on Global Education, presented to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari a petition signed by over 1 million people from across the world. The petition called for a plan to enable education for all Pakistani children, regardless of gender and to outlaw discrimination against girls. The latter has vowed to get every child into school by the end of 2015.
Malala, whom the Taliban wanted dead and forgotten, has become a symbol of education of global proportions. Thousands around the world have marched in rallies honoring her courage and journalists have closely followed and presented her story. On November 10, the United Nations celebrated Malala Day, as a way of remembering the Taliban attack and her education advocacy. Many people, including politicians such as Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, have signed and continue to sign petitions to nominate Malala for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, for political and humanitarian reasons.
She has certainly done enough to deserve it. Before the shooting, Malala was already a nationally known activist in Pakistan doing extraordinary things for education. When she was 12, she started writing a blog for BBC Urdu about girls’ struggle to attend school in her native Swat Valley and the oppressive policies of the Taliban. This took a great amount of courage, as her area was directly controlled by the Taliban. But Malala did not hesitate to take the challenge.In late 2009, Malala started appearing on television as an advocate for female education. In 2011, she was presented the National Peace Award, given to individuals under the age of 18.
However, as incredible as this young Pakistani girl may be, it is important to go beyond the Malala symbol, as Malala herself emphasized in the note delivered by Anderson Cooper. This moment should not be centered exclusively around either her or Pakistan. Her story is similar to that of millions of other individuals in the world, whose struggle for education and rights is not heard and represented in the international media. Education for all around the world, from refugee children to elders wishing to pursue a degree, should be the central objective of the movement generated by Malala’s tragic incident. It is enough that one girl was shot, because she dared go to school. Her suffering should never have to be replicated again anywhere in this world. Education shouldn’t bring pain or be gained by constant struggle, because it is fundamental human right, internationally agreed upon over half a century ago. Education should bring the joys of learning in communion with others, of growing together.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com