On October, 9th 2012, Malala Yousafzai and two other girls who were on her school bus were shot. Malala was badly injured. She was then 15. The reason for shooting her was that she was a staunch and outspoken advocate of girls’ right to education and to attend school.
Poppies’ homage to brave, outspoken Malala
Rather than silence her, what her shooters achieved was to make her more determined to fight and campaign for girls’ right to go to school.
At 16, she spoke in front of the UN delegates
Less than a year after being shot, on her 16th birthday, she gave a speech at the United Nations. They had declared 12th July 2013, her birthday, as “Malala’s day”. You can watch her full speech here…or play it to your students
At 17, Malala -jointly with Kailash Satyarthi- was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian anti-child-labour activist and Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old Pakistani education activist, were awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize at the Nobel Institute in Oslo. Again, you can watch her speech here:
Brave and outspoken with Obama:
Not long before receiving this award, brave outspoken Malala had met with President Obama, another -much less deserved- Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Send books, teachers and pens, not weapons
She told him of the importance of education and how, instead of sending weapons to countries like her own, Pakistan, he should send books, teachers and pens.
Education is more powerful than drone attacks
She also told him that terrorism can be killed through education while drone attacks may kill some terrorists but they also kill innocent people and never eradicate terrorism.
Support democratic states instead of dictatorships
Finally, she advised the president of the USA to support democratic states and not dictatorships, as the USA has traditionally been doing.
Listen to her in this video provided by The New York Times. This is Global English in full bloom:
And what she stands for
In her book, “Malala”, she says that she wrote her speech to the UN delegates thinking not only of them. She wrote it thinking of every person in the world who might take courage and stand up for their rights. I remember listening to it while I was in England for my son Roy’s graduation and being deeply moved by her words. The whole speech is worth listening to and, particularly:
Malala, one among the many
Do remember one thing. Malala day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy, and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights. Thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists, and millions have been injured. I am just one of them.
So here I stand … one girl among many.
who speaks for all those who have no voice
I speak not for myself, but for all girls and boys.
I raise up my voice not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard.
Those who have fought for their rights: Their right to live in peace. Their right to be treated wit dignity. Their right to equality of opportunity. The right to be educated.
and tells those who want to silence her that they can’t
The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions, but nothing changed in my life expect this: weakness, fear, and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.
because her dreams are just the same
One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world.
She also said that she wants to be thought of not as the girl who was shot but as “the girl -now the woman- who fought for education”.
And fights for the right of all children -including all girls- to education
Education for all.
Universal education was one of the Millennium Development Goals
For those who want to read it, here is a link to The Youth resolution, the Education we want where a group of young people (Malala among them) called on world leaders to make Education for all possible so as to fulfil the Millennium Development Goal promise of universal education by 2015.
And she is constantly campaigning to achieve it
Through Malala Fund
working hard towards Girls’ Education
with refugees, in Mexico…
If you want to contribute, either regularly or just this once, I encourage you to do it here
Don’t you think this is a great topic for class-discussions? Education in values and the right to education.
If you do something with this, I’d love to hear about it.