Malala has become a representation of resistance all over the world for, women’s empowerment and right to education.
Before being shot the teenager had been campaigning, she was a vocal critic of Islamic extremists. Her purpose was to empower women and be an advocate for women’s rights and emphasized the importance of education. One of the main lessons the author successfully conveys to the reader through the book is to speak out against ignorance as she wants people to realise what is important in the world. She also stresses the importance of using your words to change society’s views. As she was continued to fight for girls education, she stated that “the terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop and stop my ambitions but nothing changed in my life except this weakness, fear and hopelessness died; strength, power and courage were born.”
Throughout her journey Malala is encouraged to envision a future beyond her own limited circumstances and is determined to achieve her dreams of equal rights for women. Malala is raised by an enlightened Muslim father, Ziaddun Yousafzai, who encourages his daughter to fight for her rights and is supportive of Malala’s quest for all girls to be educated. In contrast to most Pakistani men her father does not hold her back and hide her away. When a cousin angrily asks him, ‘Why isn’t she covered?’ Ziaddun tells him to look after his own affairs. Malala grows up with his unwavering support for her passionate belief in gender equality and vows, “This was the war I was going to fight”. Ziauddin says to Malala, “it’s your right to speak.” He actively champions his daughter’s campaign, telling her that she is “free as a bird” and that he will protect her freedom, so she can “Carry on with her dreams”. Her father raised his voice against many Islamic traditions, to liberate Malala as she grew up which changed her mindset on the Islamic nation.
Malala’s advocacy and activism demonstrates a growing trend across the Muslim world: how women and girls have been contributing to the transformation of Islam as a force for peace and progressive change. This began in the early 1990s, when a speciﬁcally “Islamic” feminism espoused gender equality and that focused on deﬁning women’s rights issues through the lens of Islamic frameworks of understanding.
Next I’ll be explaining the impact the Taliban have had on Malala and other women in Pakistan.
Sharia law was strictly enforced in the Swat Valley and Pakistan was run under a dangerous patriarchy labelling women as second-class citizens, being completely under the control of men. It was because of this women and girls were not given an education as boys were. This is what drew Malala’s rebellions in which she became so adamant about her education. She attended a school with other girls in Swat Valley even when the Taliban began attacking the school Malala did not back down. She gave a speech entitled ‘How dare the Taliban take away the basic right to education,’ she was not afraid of the Taliban as she was so concerned with the welfare of women, risking her life by voicing these beliefs. An excerpt from one of her speeches truly emphasizes how she believed in education and not violence in order to defeat the Taliban. “If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.” This quote really shows that Malala just wanted what was best for women and girls and that she believed that through peaceful rebellions such as going to school, her goals can be attained. It also shows she was not hateful toward the Taliban and did not hold grudges, she simply wanted all girls to have the same opportunities as their male counterparts.
She began blogging under a false alias for BBC on what it was like to live under the Taliban’s rule. Her identity was eventually disclosed. This was when Taliban began to target Malala when she was only 14 and it was known that they had released a death threat against her. As her father was also an outspoken anti-Taliban activist, she began to fear for his safety as well. On October 9th 2012, Malala was shot by men who had boarded her bus in which she was left in critical condition. Malala was in critical condition but as she had previously demonstrated she was not one to give up. In March 2013, she began to attend school in England where she was supported worldwide for the cause that she nearly died for but she bravely continued her activism despite still being a target for the Taliban.
In 2014 Malala became the youngest to ever receive a Nobel peace Prize at age 17, since her attack she has also written her novel ‘I am Malala: the girl who stood up for education and shot by the Taliban. In 2015 she opened a fully funded school for Syrian refugee girls which used money from the Malala fund that helps girls in Pakistan and other oppressed countries. Malala has proven in the past few years that sometimes resistance against an evil force can be as simple as going to school, but in doing so has revealed the oppression that many women all over the world still face.