The well-publicized story of the 14-year-old Pakistani girl who was targeted and shot by Taliban members on a bus ride to school in the fall of 2012 continues to stand as a powerful reminder of the obstacles facing girls education and its advocates. Malala was an open advocate for girls’ rights to education in her home country of Pakistan.
An excerpt from Shehrbano Taseer’s article in the Daily Beast describes Malala’s prior involvement in the pro-girl’s education cause:
“Malala was only 11 when she started blogging entries from her diary for the Urdu-language website of the BBC…Malala wrote about life under Taliban rule: how she hid her schoolbooks under her shawl and how she kept reading even after the Taliban outlawed school for girls…
…In three short years, Malala became the chairperson of the District Child Assembly in Swat, was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by Desmond Tutu, was the runner-up of the International Children’s Peace Prize, and won Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. More recently she started to organize the Malala Education Foundation, a fund to ensure poor girls from Swat could go to school.”
As a young, promising pioneer in peace and education in her home region of Swat, Taliban members perceived Malala as a threat and a symbol of Western thinking. Her story is an inspiring one and many say it is a miracle that she has survived the gunshot wound to her head. The attack reflects the daunting task ahead for advocates and organizations determined to educate girls worldwide. Since gender equality and girls’ access to education is a paramount issue around the globe, Malala’s strength and courage is an encouraging message to those of us who support girls gaining access to education.
In this video, Malala speaks publicly for the first time since being targeted and shot in October 2012. Her composed, confident demeanor and thoughtful words are truly encouraging:
“I want to serve. I want to serve the people. I want every girl, every child, to be educated.” -Malala