Seeds: In defiance of the Taliban’s efforts to limit education, Malala Yousafzai advocated for the importance of education in Pakistan. She ran an anonymous blog for BBC Urdu that highlighted her fears of the Taliban’s growing influences, and the effect it will have on girl’s access to education. The Taliban found out she ran the blog after a New York Times article revealed her identity and started sending her death threats. On her way home from school in 2013, she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman, and survived. She has gracefully spoken out about how she harbors no anger against the man who shot her, and has taken her sudden global status as an opportunity advocate for girl’s right to an education.
Core: Since then, Malala has become a stronger spokeswoman for girl’s education than ever. In 2013, she established the Malala Fund for Girl’s Education . She is not only an advocate for education, but also women’s rights, emphasizing on CNN that, “A girl is not supposed to be the slave...A girl has the power to go forward in her life. She’s not only a mother, she’s not only a sister, she’s not only a wife...She should have an identity. She should be recognized and she has equal rights as a boy.”
Skin: Several documentaries have been made about Malala, including an official one titled “He Named Me Malala.” She has even been interviewed on popular American talk shows like Ellen Degeneres. Furthermore, in 2014, Malala became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. With her $1.1 million prize money, she established a secondary school for young girls in Pakistan, setting her vision for accessible education for everyone in motion.
Leaves: During her Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Malala spoke about how important it is "to be patient and to always speak the truth which we strongly believe is the true message of Islam.” Her words and actions serve as a prime example of how the true message of Islam is distorted by the extremists groups that the Western media focuses on. This raises questions about the Islamophobia that has become apparent in Western culture and the conclusions we draw based on extremist groups who do not truly represent the beliefs of the Islamic faith.
Food For Thought: Do you think that Malala’s message is important? Do you think that Islamophobia is a prevalent issue in American society? Do you think that too many generalizations are made about people just because they identify as one ethnic or religious group? Tell us what you think.
Think we missed something? Tell us in the comments.