by: Amarra Ghani, Campus Voice Editor
Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old campaigner for girls’ education in Northern Pakistan, was wounded and shot in the head by Taliban militants on her way home from school in the Swat area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhaw Province.
People around the world held their breath as Yousafzai was transferred to a hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, where doctors later announced that though she was in a very critical state, she was breathing, moving and barely surviving.
A bullet would not kill Yousafzai.
At the mere age of 11, Yousafzai started a movement for girls’ education. From 2007-2009, after the Taliban in Pakistan raided the area, Yousafzai kept a diary that she documented online through the help of BBC called Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl. Every incident that happened in her village, from Taliban home raids to school and village bombings to not being able to watch her favorite drama series on Zee TV, a popular channel in Pakistan
Yousfzai wrote it all down in hopes to get her message out to the world.
In an interview with Owais Tohid on ARY, a Pakistani news channel, Yousafzai said in 2009, “I wanted to scream, shout and tell the whole world what we were going through. But it was not possible. The Taliban would have killed me, my father, my whole family. I would have died without leaving any mark. So I chose to write with a different name. And it worked, as my valley has been freed.”
Yousafzai is in the most critical stage of a human being’s life, though she is barely alive and not stable – she has won.
She has won the continuous battle for women’s education in Pakistan.
Through every breath she takes as a survivor, Yousafzai is the face of courage and strength.
The Taliban, which is made of highly egotistical men and extremists of a false Islam, are scared of girls like Yousafzai. They are scared of a girl who can read, a girl who cannot be claimed as property, a girl who is blessed with something they lack, a brain.
Adam Ellick, New York Times journalist, first stepped into Yousadzai’s life in a 2009 documentary called Class Dismissed, where he explored the life of a young Pakistani activist for girls’ education.
In the documentary, Ellick follows Yousafzai and her family as they suffer through the consequences of various Taliban raids, one of which includes destroying her school. In the documentary, she tells Ellick she wants to become a doctor.
A common theme in third world countries are male dominating roles in society. The men are asked to not encourage a girl to be independent.
Education for girls is a threat and is not a vital tool to pursue a better life. So someone like Yousafzai who challenges and succeeds scares the Taliban and those who believe that women are merely good for reproduction.
On the day Yousafzai was shot, the Taliban was on the lookout for her. Yousafzai was advocating and encouraging women and families that education is important and is much needed. The Taliban heard about it and decided before many girls follow her lead, they were going to put an end to such behavior.
In an article in the Christian Science Monitor, Tohid reported on the incident that happened on the bus the day Yousafzai was shot.
“Which one of you is Malala? Speak up, otherwise I will shoot you all,” the Taliban militant shouted. “She is propagating against the soldiers of Allah, the Taliban. She must be punished.” After finally recognizing Yousafzai, the militant shot her point blank.
Yousafzai is an activist, leader, inspiration and survivor. She is beyond her years. The responsibility she has voluntarily taken is to be commended, not threatened.
It is unfair for girls like Yousafzai to choose between living or going to school for a survival 101.
The world needs more heroes like Yousafzai, who do not take no for an answer and who literally strive for the greater good, the most selfless act.
In an interview with BBC before the attacks, Yousafzai said, “At the time (of the Taliban raid), some of us would go to school in plain clothes, not in school uniform, just to pretend we are not students, and we hid our schools under our shawls.”
Yousafzai is fearless. The Taliban is under the impression that they are the real Muslims, but girls like Yousafzai challenge, subjugate and conquer that ideology.
Developments in Literacy, or dil.org, is an organization that helps fund schools in rural parts of Pakistan such as Sindh, Punjab, Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhaw.
Since the attacks, many organizations and icons have taken it upon themselves to raise awareness on the recent rude awakenings.
During one of Madonna’s concerts in Los Angeles, Calif., she wrote “Malala” on her lower back and dedicated her single “Human Nature” to her, after shouting, “Support education, support women!”
People are taking it upon themselves to monitor Yousafzai’s health condition through news and educate themselves on the issues of terrorism and illiteracy in Pakistan.
Yousafzai’s safety is now in the hands of the world, and through this, one hopes her dream of building a school will finally come true.