22 July 2013
Malala Yousafzai: one girl with one idea who refused to be silent. An education activist, she was working on educational rights and women’s rights in the Swat valley. Her weapons were knowledge and education in resistance to the violence perpetrated by the Taliban of Pakistan who are against female education.
In Swat valley the Taliban have at times banned females from going to school and getting an education. Malala – a strong and brave soul who stood up against all odds to provide a voice to the voiceless – was made a target by the Taliban gunmen. They wanted to silence her, but they failed.
Malala was shot in the head and neck but survived and is back on her feet with even more hope, strength and courage to carry on. She is still advocating peace and rights for everyone, with education and without the use of violence.
On her 16th birthday, this July 12th she delivered a speech at the United Nations. She made an appeal to all the world leaders to make education free and compulsory to everyone. She explained that education would bring peace and harmony.
“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 were born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same. My dreams are the same.”
The Taliban, who rule with violence and make people live in fear, could not put fear in her heart. They have killed many innocent citizens here in Pakistan and all over the world. They advocate Islamic extremism and a violent version of the Islamic Law, which only fills their personal egos and hatred for the rest of humanity.
Malala is not just one person. She is an idea, an idea that will help bring more voices out against the face of extremism and violence. She said “Malala Day is not my day, today is the day of every woman, boy and girl who has raised their voice for their rights”.
Activism to gain rights is a very hard path to walk, not for activists but for those who have not been able to raise their voices. Taking a bullet for the citizens of Pakistan who are voiceless, scared and oppressed, Malala deserves the utmost respect and credibility to move forward in the international community as a proud Pakistani and a glimmer of hope for the people of Pakistan who are facing the threat of Islamic extremism from such violent groups. Malala ended her speech and appeal to the UN with the line "One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world."
I hope Malala and many other voices rise up to fight for their rights, their freedom and a happy life. Malala is an idea, a ray of hope for the people who are denied their rights.