By Shahab H.
In American society we have the luxury of limitless news sources, which include television, radio stations, and websites. All of these news sources have the right of freedom of speech and opinion. Because of this, when it comes to topics about politics or news coverage in the Middle East, the media are biased toward a certain a politician, political party, or a general group. When it comes to the topic Malala Yousafzai has boldly raised, every article, radio or TV broadcast, I have seen or read about, has commended and supported her. I’m not saying there aren’t people who are against her, because there are. Like she said herself, those who are against women’s education rights, e.g., the Taliban.
Malala Yousafzai is a 16-year-old Pakistani advocate for education rights for everyone, but with the focus on women’s and girls’ education rights due to the fact that they are most targeted. Malala was shot from point blank range in the head and neck on October 9, 2012, on a school bus going to school. (Yousafzai) Her miraculous survival inspired her to push harder; it made her pursue her dreams of being a political activist. As she said herself, "The Taliban thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed." (Yousafzai)
The Taliban targeted her because she spoke out against their actions and because she is pushing for the education rights of women and girls. Essentially, the Taliban is afraid of educated women as that would lead to them becoming powerful to their respective countries. In the past six months, Malala has spoken in front of United Nations Student Delegates on her 16th birthday, been interviewed by Jon Stewart, written a book (I am Malala) that tells her story, and is continuing what she can to help the cause of women’s education rights. She cannot do this alone; she needs help. Some the world's greatest civil rights activists, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Ghandi, and Susan B. Anthony did not fight for their respective causes alone.
The handling of this situation on the media’s end can be improved. Yes, the media commend her, support her, and are in awe of what she says. The problem with all of this? The media has only made the situation known. The media has not helped the women who are not allowed to go to school. The job of the media is not always to make the subject known. We have seen countless times in the past where the media has raised money for a cause or something similar. Just last month we saw countless media outlets telling us to text the Red Cross to donate money so we can help the Philippines. Why are multiple media outlets not able to join to help stop the Taliban and later on raise money to create a school for these Pakistani students that are not allowed to go.
Gordon Brown, head of the United Nation’s Special Envoy for Global Education is leading the effort as the only group pushing for the Pakistani Government to end the prevention of girls’ education. Brown has a plan in place for all children to be in school by 2015. On her 16th birthday (July 12, 2013, also dubbed Malala Day within the UN), Malala spoke to the UN and their student delegates. Upon introduction she said, “Malala Day is not my day, today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights [sic]” (Yousafzai). Even though July 12 is now known as Malala Day, she does not want the focus to be on her, or about how she took a bullet, nothing of that sort. Malala wants the focus to be stopping the Taliban from heinous acts, and for women and children to be allowed to go to school. She wants to make it known that everyone has a right to an education. Age and gender do not matter; no one has the right to say that a specific gender is not allowed to go to school.
When interviewed by Jon Stewart, Malala stated her reason for her love of education. She said: “...we don’t learn the importance of anything until it’s snatched from our hands... when we were stopped from going to school at that time I realized that education is very important and education is a power for women [sic]” (Jones) I can only agree with her. Unfortunately, we as humans take what we have for granted. Especially here in America where we can nearly do anything we want to do, where we are free from such atrocities, where our government would never stand for such a thing. Let us help the Pakistani government not stand for the Taliban.
In the end, this whole saga is a great life lesson for us all. Each and everyone one of us can learn from Malala Yousafzai. We learn to not only appreciate what we have, but also to help those who do not have, and to always believe that recovery is possible from anything.
1. Tohid, Owais. "My Conversations with Malala Yousafzai, the Girl Who Stood up to the Taliban." The Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor, 11 Oct. 2012. Web. 21 Oct. 2013. I used this for background information.!
2. Jones, Brian. "Malala Yousafzai~ Jon Stewart Interview." Business Insider. N.p., 9 Oct. 2013. Web. 21 Oct. 2013. I used the Jon Stewart clip. !
3. Yousafzai, Malala. "A World at School." Malala Yousafzai's Speech at the United Nations. United Nations, n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2013.