The Taliban made a big mistake in Pakistan when they attacked children traveling to school last October.
A young girls education activist named Malala Yousafzai was critically wounded. Malala, as the world has come to know her, survived the attack and is now a global symbol for girl’s education. She recovered in London and spent her 16th birthday, today, at the UN to deliver a speech on the importance of education.
“The extremists were, and they are, afraid of books and pens,” said Malala. “The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women.”
The Taliban wanted to keep girls from going to schools by assassinating a vocal young girl. Instead they are responsible for propelling a powerful activist on education to the world’s biggest stage. Hence forth, July 12 will be known as Malala Day, in honor of the heroism and determination of one young girl.
She has a supporter in former UK prime minister Gordon Brown. The new UN special envoy for global education said it is possible to get all children, boys and girls, into school by 2015.
“It is only impossible if people say it’s impossible. Malala says it is possible – and young people all over the world think it is possible,” said Brown.Continue reading →
Malala has for years been speaking out in Pakistan against the Taliban’s prohibition on girls’ education. On Tuesday, the Islamists shot her in the head and neck, also wounding several other girls on a school bus. According to the BBC, Malala has so far survived and after surgery to remove the bullet from her head is in stable condition.
The Taliban has already threatened to attack her again with the aim of killing her for her public support of girls’ education. Here is a short documentary the New York Times did a few years ago on Malala Yousafsai and her family:
So Thursday is the day the world is supposed to stand up for girls. Seattle is already pretty big on promoting “girl power” here and around the world.
Many of our local humanitarian organizations specifically work on empowering girls and young women. There was the big “Girl Up” push a few years ago. Global Washington recently sponsored an event called Stand for Girls that brings together a number of organizations working on girls and women’s issues. On Thursday, the Gates Foundation and other members of the Northwest Girls Coalition are sponsoring a number of local events to mark the United Nations’ first International Day of the Girl.
But honestly, these kind of theme days come and go, with varying levels of success when it comes to truly gaining public attention and interest. Simply calling something World (fill-in-the-blank) Day is of debatable value. Today is World Mental Health Day, for example. The practice of proclaiming a day to ‘raise awareness’ for some cause or issue has become so common that now every single day of the year now marks something, or several things.
So maybe we should make this first International Day of the Girl about keeping our eye on just one very brave girl who is on the front line fighting for this cause. Let’s make it about Malala.