Inspirational Publié le 18 novembre 2019

Malala Yousafsai: Breaking Down Cultural Boundaries

When Iraqi Najlaa turned 14, she was already wearing her wedding dress. Contrary to what most women her age would do, she took off her high heels and escaped from her wedding. While she was running away, she was captured by the extremist ISIS. Despite being attacked, she did not give up. Now, she fights for education and she is studying to become a journalist.


For 22-year-old Malala Yousafsai, stories like that of Najlaa are an inspiration. She aims to bring those stories of overcoming adversity into a global platform like the United Nations. In this way, she helps these girls to raise their voices and meet their country leaders. But the youngest Nobel Prize winner has an unbelievable life story herself.


In Swat Valley, Pakistan, where she used to live, girls do not go to school for many reasons. One is poverty. Another one is child labour. But the most deep-rooted issue is cultural: girls are born to help their father, brothers and future husband. Their destiny is to take care of their children. Not to have a professional career. The situation is so extreme that, when a girl is born, her birth is not even celebrated.


Once girls turn 13, they are forbidden to go out of her home without a male escort. They are expected to be quiet, humble and submissive. For many patriarchal societies, from that age onwards, girls are no longer considered free individuals.


When Malala was almost five years old, her father, a schoolteacher, admitted her at one of the schools he ran. The fact of being enrolled in a school could be taken for granted in many developed countries. However, for Malala, it meant recognition of her identity and the possibility of aiming higher. Nevertheless, she knew that most girls did not experience the same fate.


At the age of 10, she stood for the right to education. She wrote a diary for the BBC blog under the pseudonym Gul Makai, which means “cornflower” in Urdu. Through that blog, she described the horrors and tensions the inhabitants of Swat experienced daily. In 2003, the valley became a heartland for Pakistan Islamic militancy. Tehrik-i-Taliban had taken control of the valley, which triggered a climate of extreme violence. Soon, women՚s access to education was banned: Schools turned from places of learning to one of violence and fear.


Despite the context, Malala took part in the New York Times documentaries. She spoke in every platform she could. Her voice was so powerful that soon, her story spread all around the world. Now, everyone knew what was happening in Swat. Political tension and violence increased, and Malala became a target.


On October 9th, 2012, Malala was shot on a bus while traveling home from school. The bullet hit her in the left side of her head and traveled down her neck, reaching her shoulder. Malala never had thought the journey that she had started to go back home from school, would end up in a hospital room in Birmingham. In a critical condition, doctors in Pakistan had decided to airlift her for surgery to the United Kingdom.


Not only did the gunman failed to kill her, but her voice was heard a lot more. Her influence had been strong enough to push Pakistan to create the right to education bill, which was the first of its kind in that country. Since that moment, she had won many awards and recognitions. When she turned 17, she won the Nobel Peace Prize, which she shared with the Hindu rights՚ activist Kailash Satyarthi.


Now, after publishing two books about her journey, she wrote, “We Are Displaced”. In it, she describes her own story of displacement and highlights the stories of young women impacted by global immigration policies.


Seven years since the attempted assassination, Malala is still settled in the UK, where she studies Philosophy at Oxford and advocated for women’s rights. She is the voice for new generations and a role model for women around the world: “My goal is very clear, and that is to continue fighting for girls’ education, their empowerment, their rights.”