Malala Yousafzai - An Advocate Of Female Education

Since time immemorial, we have lived in a patriarchal society. Men have always commanded respect and enjoyed privileges that women, on the basis of sex, were denied. Rights that women enjoy today were fought for and won through many sacrifices made by women before us. Today we enjoy the right to vote, to own land and to acquire and pursue education. The great Martin Luther King said, “When you educate a man, you educate an individual, but when you educate a woman, you educate a nation. It was this burning desire to educate not only herself, but all young girls like herself that placed Malala Yousafzai in direct conflict with the ruling Taliban in her region of Pakistan.

Malala Yousafzai, a twenty-one-year-old girl born on July 12th 1997 in Swat Valley Pakistan, is an activist as well as an advocate of female education. As the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014, it is a befitting tribute to a girl brought up in the Islamic faith which at its core teaches peace and submission to the will of God. Malala and I are both Muslim. Both she and I know that the Qur’an teaches “learning from the cradle to the grave” and that was all that she was doing. Malala was not disobeying her faith or her beliefs whilst in pursuit of an education for herself and other young girls. All she ever desired was the ability to make decisions for herself and to be free to go to school and to eventually be of service to mankind.

Malala reminded the world that when the whole universe is silent, even one voice becomes powerful. She chose to be that voice when the Taliban closed all the girls’ schools in her region and forbade females from leaving their homes unless covered by a burqa.

The Taliban ideology enforced and promoted a patriarchal society where women would have no rights, not be respected and simply be ruled and dominated by men. Furthermore, they would be deprived of education and consequently have no choice, but to stay at home and do chores for their family. Malala knew that this went against their teachings of the Qur’an which encourages the virtue of “seeking knowledge from the cradle to the grave” and so she became a passionate advocate for female education.

As an 11-year-old, Malala’s blog, “Diary of a Pakistani School Girl”, for the Urdu channel on BBC found a huge audience, it was both captivating and riveting. Her accounts of life under Taliban Rule in the Swat Valley of Pakistan from where she originally hails, brought her to the attention of the Taliban.

The Taliban feeling threatened and undermined by a child, issued a death threat against her. Whilst travelling home from school on October 9th 2012, two Taliban hit men boarded her bus and asked, “Which one of you is Malala?” When the bold answer of “I am Malala” filled the air, Malala was shot in the head. However, after intensive medical care in Birmingham, England, Malala survived this cowardly shooting. Because of Malala’s popular blog in Britain, the British government’s timeous intervention in her medical treatment resulted in the saving of her life.

Malala once wisely said “Education is education. We should learn everything and then choose which path to follow. Education is neither Eastern or Western. It is human.”

I couldn’t agree more. The sooner we realize this, the quicker we can be on the path to global peace. As long as we see and perceive education in a divided form with each one claiming superiority over the other, there can be no world unity and wars and civil strife will continue to be the order of the day.

Another of Malala’s quotes: “If one man can destroy everything, why can’t one girl change it?” is both inspirational and motivational to young girls across the globe. Through her own example, she encourages females to find their voices and make them heard for the greater good.

Some people are born great whilst others have greatness thrust upon them. And then we simply have Malala Yousafzai, who through just being her authentic self, is great. It is often said that within all of us lies the potential to be totally great at something. Most of us spend our entire lives trying to find this hidden greatness and become so invested in it that we forget that this greatness cannot be found. Instead, it illuminates from within. Malala did not go looking for it. She did not actively seek it out. Instead, it found her when she accidentally stumbled upon it. A true serendipity.

Malala Yousafzai – a student presently reading for philosophy and politics at Oxford University, a humble daughter, a caring sister, a humanitarian and perhaps a future politician. A courageous individual whom I believe the world has not heard the last of and who will continue to make an impact on mankind. 

16 December 2021
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