I am Malala

Posted by Kristina Kassis

As a 19-year old woman attending one of the most rigorous Liberal Arts schools in the nation, it may seem like I am truly privileged. However, I view my education not as a privilege, but rather as a right that anyone, regardless of any factors that make them different, should possess.

So naturally, the October 9 shooting of 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai, a school student and education activist from the town of Mingora in Pakistan, has left me, along with much of the world, shocked, deeply saddened and above all, outraged. It is devastating to know that today there are still people out there who will try to kill a child for voicing her beliefs.

It is even more devastating to know that these very men have eluded capture for so many years. I am certain I can speak for many when I say that the U.S and other nations should continue to band together to eradicate the Taliban once and for all. 

Since the age of 12, when the Taliban invaded her region and closed many all-girls schools, Yousafzai has been active in advocating for women's education. In fact, Yousafzai apparently started speaking about education rights as early as September 2008.

"How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education!" Yousafzai exclaimed to her audience in a speech that was widely broadcast in both print and on television throughout the region. 

At only 11 years old, Yousufzai decided she wanted to be a politician. She wrote a daily blog detailing her life under the oppressive regime and even made a documentary about her plight in 2009 in conjunction with director Adam B. Ellick.

Hearing a girl so young speak out for what she believed in, and speak out against an oppressive group, is inspiring to say the least, but also eye-opening. The plight of women in Pakistan is something few would know about if it weren't for Yousafzai's brave attempts to share her struggle with the world. That is why she received the country's highest honor for bravery, an honor she most definitely deserved. I did not personally know Yousafzai, but I am infinitely proud of her and pray everyday for her swift and full recovery.

On October 9, the Taliban may have silenced a revolutionary voice, but not permanently. Perhaps as a testament to her unfailing tenacity and perseverance, Yousafzai is already writing and communicating with her doctors. By eliminating Yousufzai's voice, the Taliban thought they would strike fear in the hearts of people worldwide struggling to obtain education, but it seems like their attempts have achieved just the opposite. 

The attack has created a surge of support behind Yousufzai. In fact, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown launched a United Nations petition in Yousafzai's name, using the slogan: "I am Malala." This petition demands that all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015. Brown said he would present the petition to Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari in November. 

I applaud Gordon Brown's efforts and the efforts of all activists who have stood by and continue to stand by Yousafzai during her recovery, but again, I do not think this is enough and I do not think Brown's goal is realistic without the complete eradication of the Taliban, which will require help from many nations.
We must band together as a global community to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again. 

The U.S and other nations have already been working hard for the past 11 years to eradicate the Taliban, and I believe these efforts must continue until everyone can stand up for their rights without fear of persecution for their beliefs. 

Until then, I will stand by my own belief that EVERY child, boy or girl, deserves an education and hope for a brighter future. I am not simply a woman. I am not simply a student. I am Malala

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