Contextualizing Malala

Malala Yousafzai's memoir "I Am Malala." (Photo courtesy of bigandlittlebookreview.com)

by Christine Urio

Education and women’s right activist, Malala Yousafzai, won the Nobel Peace Prize on Fri., Oct. 17.

The 17-year-old is the youngest recipient thus far and a symbol of redemption for the crisis that surrounds the Middle East.

Two years prior, she was shot in the head by the Taliban for her efforts to promote girls’ education in Pakistan. Since then, she has continued to give speeches and stand up for the rights she believes that women across the world are entitled to.

On Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” last year, she said that if she were to be confronted again by a member of the Taliban, she would not fight back.

“I’ll tell him how important education is and that I even want education for your children as well,” she said. “I’ll tell him, ‘That’s what I want to tell you; now do what you want.’”

Yousafzai was greatly influenced and encouraged by her father and started anonymously blogging for BBC about the trouble in her home of Swat Valley in Pakistan when she was just 11.

In her memoir, “I Am Malala,” she recalls the horrific events of the Taliban takeover and the life-or-death risk she and other girls had to take just to receive an education. Aware of the power informed citizens have, the Taliban targeted Malala for her outspoken advocacy and growing popularity.

Some feel that her shooting was a mere publicity stunt and she is more fitted to win an Oscar than the Nobel Prize.

According to News.com, a common refrain found is the belief that “her shooting, hospitalization and coma were all staged as part of a conspiracy that involved Britain where she now lives.”

The rumors apparently have not stopped the young advocate for continuing to fight for education.

“I want to see every child going to school. There are still 57 million children who have not received education,” she said during her acceptance speech.

She is a force that cannot be ignored. According to NPR, she is a constant reminder of the “transformative power of education, especially for the 31 million primary-school-age girls, according to UNICEF, who aren’t in school worldwide.”

“They thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed,” she said.

Because of her constant pursuit and courage not to back down, Malala is the fresh face of international hope.

“Out of that silence came, thousands of voices,” she said. “The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”