Honouring Malala Yousafzai On ‘Malala Day’

Though it has been exactly a month since Malala Yousafzai’s shooting, she is still one of the most commemorated individuals in the media; whether on the radio, television, or on the World Wide Web. Although she is well on her path to a wonderful and healthy recovery, there have been countless tributes done in her name; from great ones, such as meaningful poems, songs, and cartoons/drawings (I also attempted to draw her portrait; it can be viewed here) to not-so-great ones, if at all, like Madonna’s rather irreverent and cretinous striptease that makes us all shake our heads in disapproval, while questioning her state of mind.

Nevertheless, the United Nations decision to dub November 10th as Malala Day is, in my opinion, the best tribute of all. It is a day that the whole world will, from now onwards, celebrate in commemoration of this beautiful brave child who, through her bravery and will power, has given voice to so many that have suffered silently for far too long. She is now seen as more than simply an internationally recognized icon, for she has now finally wrested unprecedented support all across the globe, both for the rights and freedom of girls’/women’s education in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

I’m sometimes asked by fellow colleagues, as well as individuals outside my social realm, about Malala and what is so special about her, for she is only a child, like any other, shot by the Taliban; except in her case, she survived, while countless others have died and are hence forgotten. I reminded them that even though Malala was indeed like any other child from the terror-stricken region of Swat, her uniqueness stems from the fact that she was the only one who decided to take a vocal stand against social injustice, and bring awareness to an issue that has simply been swept under the carpet, hence pushing women and girls alike deeper and deeper into oppressive absolutism. This, as a result, earned her paragon recognition, going as far as giving her consideration for the Nobel Peace Prize in honour of becoming a symbol of peace; a symbol of courage; and a symbol of resistance against the Taliban.

Additionally, where the world once associated Pashtuns with the Taliban, it is now Malala who will replace that despicably negative stereotype. And it is Malala’s legacy that will continue to promote Pashtuns in a more positive light. She will soon become the face of a new type of revolution, leaving behind violence and ignorance and promoting peace and literacy.

At times, I can’t help but wonder whether Malala’s shooting was a blessing in disguise – a blessing that not only gave her a second chance at life, but it also allowed people, all across the world, the opportunity to understand and realize just how dire and troublesome the situation pertaining to the sanctions on female education, in most parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and its surrounding regions, has become. Hence, the incident touched a climax of popularity, and not only for the reason that the Taliban had attacked a girl – for we all know that girls like Malala are attacked and killed on a daily basis, except that we never hear about them in the media. Rather, the intense popularity called for the apothegmatic reason to finally raise a voice for the voiceless, and hence condemn the destruction of girls’ schools in Swat (as well as the surrounding areas).

Further, Malala’s popularity in the media led to the influx of messages on social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, followed by numerous petitions calling and urging for the support of female education. The one petition in particular, which was conducted by the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown — the former British prime minister — carried two million (yes, you read that right!) signatures that was handed over to President Asif Ali Zardari this past Friday. And, in the petition, the former prime minister had urged the government of Pakistan to ensure that every child, both male and female, get access to education, and even asked international organizations and NGOs to ensure enrolment of 61 million children, who have been deprived of education, by the year 2015. This, albeit in my view is a rather ambitious goal, I can’t wait to see come to fruition in the very near future. President Asif Ali Zardari, himself, deeply appreciates the courageous Malala, for on Malala Day, he shared the following quote:

Malala stands tall today as a symbol of defiance against those who wish to impose their obscurantist agenda in the name of religion. Malala Day is being observed all over the world to show solidarity with the brave daughter of Pakistan, Malala Yousufzai, who stood defiantly to the militants to pursue her education and refused to bow to their threats and faced the bullets instead of giving up her mission.

It’s indeed heart-warming to know that despite the fact that Pakistan is facing acute terrorism, the observance of Malala Day and the world’s solidarity with Pakistan is a very encouraging sign to vitalize the resolve for the promotion of female education. The world has finally awoken to this cognizance – this importance among Pashtuns. And we have no one but Malala to thank for this.

So, thank you, dear Malala – thank you for standing up for what you strongly believe in. Thank you for giving voice to the voiceless. Thank you for risking your life, only to live and prove to the world that women who stand up for themselves, and their rights, are truly invincible; for not even bullets stand a chance! Thank you for being you, as we all rejoice today and celebrate you; celebrate every single girl; every single female, who inspires to follow in your footsteps and bring change. And for that, I salute you!

Happy Malala Day, everyone!

9 responses to “Honouring Malala Yousafzai On ‘Malala Day’

  1. Nice article. You celebrated Malala day in a very good way. Also in the light of history of the day. Our pukhtoon society needs Malala and like you female to raise their. But most important they need a plate form which i think Malala provides them.

    • Thank you for your comment, Shajan Khan! It’s very much appreciated! It’s very nice to see men like you speak so positively of brave girls like Malala, for you should know that women, although CAN progress and move forward on their own, they also need support and positive encouragement from pro-women/pro-equality men like you. So, thank you again, wror jaana ow hamesha khushaal ow baryaal wossey! Korr de waddan! 🙂

      • Manana khory and hushala osey. che taal da pukhtanu hazoo malatar kae. I am always be there for the support of women to speak up and their work without any hesitation. I think it important that we should start from our homes. I am doing that. Its my duty to support women like Malala. Thanks to you. Taal dey kor wadan khawagy khory.

  2. What a great piece to read. And just to share with you, I was given a rare access to her class room and chatted for half an hour with the kids. Though traumatized the kids were, but their courage and intellect was inspiring.

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Kahar Zalmay, and for dropping by!

      Wow, you’ve met Malala and the lovely kids in her classroom? What an AMAZING experience that must’ve been! It’s sad how much the intellect and capabilities of our children are undermined; all they need is a chance – a chance to go to school so that they can show their worth. I just don’t understand why there is so much resentment towards knowledge and education, especially for females. But each time I ask myself that question, I end up answering it with: “Because they are afraid of how powerful a woman’s worth can be, and by educating them, they (the men) will lose that power.” It’s like they’d rather be dominating and patriarchal than help develop women and treat them as an equal. I guess once this fear has been eradicated from the conditioning of these insecure men that our Pashtuns will finally be able to progress. But until then, we can only hope and wait.

  3. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012%5C11%5C04%5Cstory_4-11-2012_pg3_6
    this is what I wrote about my visit to her school after she was shot. It was published by a local daily.

    As for what you mentioned our men’s insecurity with female education, I agree that our men suffer from serious male chauvinism but it has to change some day and its gradually changing. I visit extensively to the North and Tribal belt and see some change though the pace is agonizingly slow. Though i am not a great supporter of Pakistani education as instead of enlightening it, it makes you a sick person, full of hatred and dogmas. With the cultural openness and economic growth, I hope we see a day when our women stand with us shoulder to shoulder and play a role in bringing change to our centuries old backward norms and values.

  4. I love that fact that you included how Pashtuns are now associated with Malala instead of the Taliban. She is a hero indeed.

  5. Pingback: Malala Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize | THE SCARECROW·

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