The first time I had ever heard of Malala was when most others in the UK did. When in 2012 the headlines read “The Girl Shot By the Taliban”, the line she was commonly known by due to the large coverage on her progress by the media. However as an ignorant 12 year old, I did not absorb the real meaning and impact behind that news. All I thought about was how shocking it was that a child, not much older than myself, had been shot in the face and survived. Instead of the real symbol of refusing to give up your rights for education, to have equal opportunities for men as well as the sheer strength and message that this young girl carried.
Since reading her book ‘I am Malala’ when I was 15 or 16, it really steered my priorities and outlook on life and education. It made me appreciate my free and good quality education and inspired me to share that perspective with those around me. However, at this age I was not yet thinking too far into the future and so her story had only had that immediate effect on me.
More recently, in the last year planning and preparing my future has become much more important, concerning universities and my career. The impact Malala had on me was brought to the front of my thoughts again, at this point I found that she had created a documentary titled ‘He Name Me Malala’ not too long after her book that I had never seen before. It really brought to life Malala’s story through its visual format, conveying all of the messages written in her book but with real life interviews and personal documentary within it. She narrates her life events with help from her family, especially her father.
Her book and documentary both influenced me to be more concerned with the events in third world countries where young women are not allowed access to education and opportunities for success that are expected to be taken by men in these patriarchal societies. Also, it gave me a deeper understanding into the radicalisation of her home community, her culture and her communities response to such evil. Her great work as an advocate for girls and women’s rights to a decent education with equal rights as men as well as her passion for learning and education herself, expressing the importance of knowledge for the benefit of society and eventually economy. This has inspired me to want to pursue a similar role in not only my society but communities in much less fortunate situations. To help them in terms of education and building the rights of women and those in the caste system such as untouchables which remain in many communities in the East. I hope to be able to work towards advocating for such rights and providing help and care to those who need it most.
Besides practical things that Malala has inspired me to strive for, she has impacted me personally more than anything ever has. The bravery that she holds to speak out against strict conventions in her community with the knowledge that she could face death for her necessary actions is bewildering, even more so when she was attacked, which could have been fatal and continuing her work without regret or discouragement from her life-threatening event is even more unimaginable for me and others who are privileged. So in other words, her resilience at such a young age encourages and assures me that despite the common opinion that the young age we are naive and incapable of wisdom or knowledge, that we can actually start now and what we stand for is important to speak up about as we are the future. Thanks to Malala, girls can aspire to be successful and heard both in Western and Eastern culture, she is a real role model for all children.
“Education is education. We should learn everything and then choose which path to follow.” Education is neither Eastern nor Western, it is human.”
– Malala Yousafzai, I am Malala: The Story of The Girl Who Stood up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.
“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”
-Malala Yousafzai, I am Malala: The Story of The Girl Who Stood up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.
I urge you to read her book as it shows a real insight into her life, values and culture, religion and her message in such depth, creating a personal connection between you the reader and Malala. However, if you are more visual, take an hour or so out of your day to watch her documentary ‘He Called Me Malala’ on Netflix. Which also builds the connection between you and Malala as you can physically see the passion she has as well as following her experience through beautiful animation put into the documentary. I hope that you read, watch or do both as it is so important that her message is shared so that more young people can be enlightened by her journey.
A large part of Malala’s work is her charity ‘Malala Fund’ where she uses donations to help give education to all young girls in less fortunate areas in the world, posting personal journeys of other young girls in patriarchal and/or deprived areas.