Synopsis: When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.
A few weeks back now I gave a talk on this book: I am Malala at the Southbank Centre in London as part of their Alchemy Festival. It was incredible engaging with people in real life beyond the internet! The weirdest thing about being asked to read this book and host a discussion around it is that I, like Malala am Pashtun. Her village isn’t incredibly far from where my Mother grew up as a small child. The cultural opinions and messages in this book hit so close to home for me it was sort of unsettling to read at time.
Lets celebrate girls and women
“I was a girl in a land where rifles are fired in celebration of a son, while daughters are hidden away behind a curtain, their role in life simply to prepare food and give birth to children.” I grew up in England, I was born here but this preference of sons to daughters has haunted me from a young age and still follows me around. Not just within my family, but in my community the preference and the ideology that boys and men had more power and their existence was more necessary was disturbing. As a 23 year old woman, I still face this difference but now I fight against them, but I’m glad I was able to read this book and have someone in solidarity with me in this fight.
Importance of Education
Many people, especially those in the West take receiving education for granted. I am happy that Malala has become an advocate for Education. In this book Malala talks about how the Taliban expected to end her by shooting her but instead they gave her a bigger platform, the world woke up to Malala’s fight the day she was shot. The world joined in her fight for the right to an education for girls and we are still going.
A normal teenager and before the attack
Malala’s relationship with her family is built on nothing but love and genuine respect. Malala’s Father’s ambition is present in her. He wanted to build schools so he did, she wanted to learn so she did. Both have succeeded despite obstacles. In parts Malala’s story is of an ordinary teenager, a girl who likes wearing nice clothes, of friendship and silly arguments. The unordinary part is watching the Taliban impose a regime of terror, taking away the smallest joys of those in her community. Malala’s fight started long before she was shot in the face and now you can read about it because the one moment was pivotal but to understand the gravity of this situation and this campaign you need to understand everything else that led to that October 9 2012.