It was only one month ago that a Taliban gunman forced his way onto a bus full of schoolgirls in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, shooting 15 year old Malala Yousafzai in the head and neck. Miraculously, Malala survived the attack. She was airlifted to the UK for treatment, and against incredible odds, the brave teenager is on her way to a full recovery.
Malala first captured the world’s attentionat 11 years of age, when she became an eloquent spokesperson for the rights of young women, especially their right to have access to a good education. Her frequent blogs gained her international celebrity, but also brought her in the crosshairs of the Taliban. Malala and her family were repeatedly threatened, but the young girl and her parents refused to be bullied into silence.
In recognition of Malala’s bravery, , the United Nations special envoy for global education, has declared November 10th a “global day of action” dedicated to Malala. Brown, who formerly was the British Prime Minister, is currently in Islamabad to advocate for making quality education available to Pakistan’s female population. As part of this mission, Brown will personally deliver a petition in support of Malala, and the universal right to education to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.
In announcing Brown’s mission, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, "Malala Yousafzai is a global symbol of every girl's right to an education. On November 10th, citizens from across the globe are speaking out for Malala and on behalf of the 61 million children still not in school...I am adding my voice to the messages from over 1 million people across the globe. Education is a fundamental human right. It is a pathway to development, tolerance and global citizenship. Join us in our campaign to put education first for Malala and girls and boys throughout the world."
“Malala doesn’t just represent one young woman, she speaks out for all those who are denied an education purely on the basis of their gender,” says Shahida Choudary, the British woman who has launched a petition to nominate Malala for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Choudhary speaks from an intimate knowledge of the repressive policies regarding women in Pakistan. Although she was born in the UK, at 16 she was forced to quit school, was sent to Pakistan, where she was pushed into an arranged marriage.
“I was trapped, afraid of what would happen to me if I resisted. Eventually, I managed to escape back to the UK and when I was 28, I was finally able return to education, but I still think about the years I missed. I also think about all the other girls in our communities today who are in the same situation. I know there are girls like Malala here in the UK,” Choudhary writes in her petition profile.
So far, the petition has amassed tens of thousands of signatures and the list is growing. If Malala were to receive the Nobel Prize, she would be the youngest person in history to be awarded the prize. According to recent reports, Malala’s father said she was “humbled” by the support she had received from around the world. While the 15 year old continues to make remarkable progress, her doctors caution that it will take months for her to heal from her injuries. But just one month after sustaining life-threatening wounds, Malala is reading, writing and continuing to advocate for young women everywhere.