“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”
Malala Yousafzai at her speech given as the youngest Nobel Prize laureate.
Malala; the ‘pride of Pakistan’ returns to her homeland for the first time in four years, since she was shot in the head by the Taliban as a little girl for having the audacity to stand up for her right to go to school.
“We realise the importance of our voices, only when we are silenced.”
Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala
Malala was always going to be different from her peers in Pakistan. Her father, Ziauddin owned his own school and believed girls should be educated like boys. When Malala, his first child was born her father was overjoyed. He was confused why people did not throw coins and sweets into her crib, the cultural norm for baby boys or why neighbours came over to commiserate the birth of a daughter with his wife. It was different when his sons were born, and for a man who loved his children equally, he did not understand.
Ziauddin fostered the political will and intelligence in Malala to stand up and fight for her right to an education. She followed her father to political talks, as a young child sitting on his knee and then as she grew older she started to give her own speeches on the importance to society that boys and girls are given the opportunity to a good education.
The Taliban shot Malala in the head on the school bus after school. Two of her friends were also shot and are also living in England. Malala was flown to a hospital in Birmingham due to complications from her head injury. She has lived in Birmingham for the past four years with her family.
Malala’s biography, ‘I Am Malala’ is a very interesting and personal account of her fight to attend school during the era of the Taliban in Pakistan. It is written with the help of one of the world’s leading foreign correspondents, Christina Lamb who helped put a lot of the personal dialogue within a historical context.
In her biography, Malala states that she loves England because it is so calm and quiet. She found it so surprising that here people respect and do not fear the police and no one knows the army general’s name. She finds the solitude and lack of a community spirit in England compared to her home town of Mingora in Pakistan hard. Her loving mother, who is illiterate and can not speak English has especially found it difficult.
Malala loves her home in the Swat valley and wishes to return to Pakistan to continue her fight as a politician for women’s rights and education. At the moment she is studying in Oxford University. Let’s hope Pakistan embraces her as a symbol of resilience and pride and not a symbol of shame or a Western stooge, as some people have called her according to her biography and keep her safe on her first trip home.