By now many of you are probably familiar with the story of the 15-year old Pakistani school girl and human rights activist Malala Yousafzai. At the age of 11, Malala did the unthinkable, she spoke out very publicly in a diary blog featured on BBC criticizing the Taliban’s repressive policy against educating girls. For this, Malala and a fellow schoolgirl were gunned down as they left school on October 9th.
Malala and her friend’s pain were not in vain. It’s incredible the level of reactions to Malala. For an extremist group that is so against giving rights to women, they sure are giving this young girl plenty consideration and ample attention. It’s obvious by their retaliation that her words struck a chord amongst the group, and they felt threatened. Conversely, support of Malala has poured in from all corners of the world and condemnation against the Taliban has been severe. World leaders, country governments, activist-minded celebrities, everyday people have been inspired by Malala’s story and the ensuing violent act. New life has been breathed into the fight for girls’ education, and education for everyone else for that matter, and it is a passionate movement.
Nowhere has the outrage that has erupted around the world against the Taliban been more vehement than in her own country of Pakistan. Pakistanis of both genders and all ages are expressing anger at the shooting and the Taliban’s overall oppression and schoolchildren have vowed to continue with their education and attending school despite fear of Taliban retaliation. It will be interesting to see how this will encourage others living under Taliban rule to speak out. It will also be important to watch how Pakistan handles this situation. This is a country and the government for which the Taliban is operating within, so Pakistan can be sure that the world will be watching to see what level of effort will go into finding those behind the shooting and how punishment will be given.
You may live across the world from Pakistan, you may have never experienced what it’s like to not be able to receive an education, you may have never lived in a country where oppressive factions like Taliban operate, but there is still something you can do. November 10th is a designated day of action to Stand with Malala and support education for the 34 million adolescent girls who do not receive education. Visit iammalala.org to sign the UN Special Envoy for Global Education Petition that will be delivered to the Pakistan President Zardari on this day to rally for education for all Pakistani children. Tweet and post on Facebook “I am Malala” #iammalala to show your support and share the petition with your friends. Learn more about the UN’s global Education First initiative to learn more about how the UN is working to put every child in school and improve education around the world. Hold a candlelight vigil in your community, stage a child education rally promoting the rights of education for all children, and petition your governments to support childhood education campaigns and initiatives in your own country and others. Support organizations like The International Center on Child Labor and Education, Save the Children, Association for Childhood Education International, and there are many more.
Fortunately, Malala is doing well and on her way to recovery, although she is not out of the clear yet with the very real possibility of infection. Keep Malala and all the other brave, young activists in your thoughts as well as the children all over the world who have not been given the chance at education. And tell us: how will you will Stand with Malala on November 10th?
The first featured image is from AFP.
The second featured image is from The Hindu.