By Sijal Rehmane
Malala Yousafzai is the extremely brave 14 –year-old activist of Swat Valley in North-Western Pakistan, who has been rallying for girls’ education since she was 11 years old. Her blog on BBC Urdu, titled Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl, chronicled her experiences as the Taliban shut down several girls’ schools— including the one owned and operated by Malala’s father— in North-West Pakistan as they effectively banned education for girls. With entry titles that translate to the effect of “I Am Afraid,” “Do Not Wear Colourful Dresses” and “Night Filled With Artillery Fire,” the diary has a decidedly and persistently ominous tone to it.
Journalist and videographer Adam B. Ellick followed her and her family for six months as they were forced into exile during the Taliban’s military raids in 2009. The two-part documentary he produced from the footage he gathered paints a picture of an educated, religious family that wants simply to continue living their lives as they did before the Taliban plundered their peaceful existence. Malala comes across as an ambitious young woman whose main desire is to go to school, complete her education and become a doctor. As she is forced from her home along with her family, we see Malala yearning to simply get back to her books, which she did not have time to pack and bring along with her in the chaos that drove her from her home.
The drive and bravery displayed by this very young woman is as inspirational as it is heartbreaking, given the circumstances under which it comes to light. Malala was persistently vocal about her desire to receive an education, which is what triggered the horrendous attack on her by a Taliban gunman earlier today.
Yousafzai was the first recipient of the National Peace Award for Youth in Pakistan. The award was later renamed for her, and is now known as the National Malala Peace Prize and will be presented to outstanding Pakistanis under 18. She was also in the running to receive an international peace prize on Universal Children’s Day.
Here at SHE, we wish her a speedy recovery and cannot wait to see her back on her feet, continuing her inspiring work for women’s education in Pakistan.