Malala Yousafzai: Change Agent in an Unchanged World?
“Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right.”1
– Malala Yousafzai, Teen Educational Activist from Pakistan
“If you educate a woman, you educate a family. If you educate a girl, you educate the future.”2
– Rania Al Abdullah, Queen of Jordan3
October 9th 2012, wasn’t a normal school day for the students of ‘Khushal School and College’, in Mingora, Swat, Pakistan. After school, when they boarded the school bus, they noticed that the streets had an unusual deserted look. The school bus had just gone a little further when two young men, stopped the bus, boarded it and shouted at the girls, “Who is Malala?” The eye movements of the scared girls were hints enough for the men to know who amongst them was Malala. Before the girls could realise, the men had shot Malala in her head, leaving her unconscious, and two of her friends wounded. Malala was just 15 years old then and her crime – she stood for her right to education.
On her 16th birthday on July 12th 2013, Malala was given the exceptional honour of addressing the Youth Assembly of the United Nations. Malala had become a celebrity. On October 11th 2013, she was in the White House meeting President Barack Obama and on October 18th 2013, she was meeting the Queen of England. Her felicitations and her campaign continued. In November 2013, Malala along with Malia (the eldest daughter of President Barack Obama) was named as one of the 16 most influential teens of 2013 by Time.4
What is fuelling Malala’s global fame and her new found celebrity status? Perhaps, Malala is being viewed as a change agent. While Malala is trying to bring out change, it is debatable if she is an accidental change agent or a purposeful change agent. Can she be a crusader for girls’ education in general and girls’ education in the Arab world in particular?..................
- 1 “Girls Education in Pakistan”, http://www.campaignforeducation.org/en/campaigns/girls-education/girls-education-in-pakistan
- 2 “Queen Rania’s Full Oprah Interview”, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ehpVlauStM
- 3 Queen Rania works for the cause of education and learning in Jordan and beyond.
- 4 “Time magazine most influential teens: MalalaYousafzai, Malia Obama top list”, http://www.financialexpress.com/news/malala-yousafzaimalia-obama-among-time-magazines-most-influential-teens/1194410, November 14th 2013