What My Daughter Would Ask Malala
Why, Cause? My two-year old’s favorite new words, and ones I’m sure she would ask of The Bravest Girl in the World.
Most of us have recently witnessed countless interviews (see the most light-hearted one below with Jon Stewart) with the young activist, Malala Yousafzai, and heard of the assassination attempt on her life by Taliban gunmen while returning home on a school bus in Swat Valley. Despite the tragic incident, Malala has emerged stronger than ever and seems to have been put on this earth to ensure every child is educated — regardless of where they live or their socioeconomic status. The United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown even launched a UN petition in Yousafzai’s name, using the slogan “I am Malala” and demanding that all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015.
In 2013, Malala has had a quite a year. She was featured on Time magazine’s front cover and as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World”. She was the winner of Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and was nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize – all at 16 years old. While just as special in my eyes, my daughter is growing up in quite a different world than Malala.
My daughter, and many of yours, are being raised with constant encouragement to speak up for what they believe in – whether it be a salary raise at work or a cause they care about. Our daily chatter focused at young women is chock-full of empowerment, belief and support. So, it would be natural for my daughter to have the following questions for Malala:
“Why do you have to fight for your right to education as a young woman?”
“Why were the young women of Swat Valley oppressed and not allowed to dance or go to the market?
“Why do you continue to speak up for your rights and for young women everywhere?
(P.S. That would be an interview I would love to watch )
Like most two year-olds, my daughter asks me “why” on an hourly basis. What she actually asks is “Why, Cause?” I guess she gets this from my husband and I answering her back “…cause Mommy and Daddy asked you to.” To me, she poses a much larger question for us all: “Why do we do what we do?”
Malala’s conviction toward access to education might be the answer. To seek out knowledge is to seek out answers to questions. The more we learn about the world and others, the more we learn about ourselves. Perhaps if we all had access to education (or took advantage of the access those of us do have), we would be more certain in who we are and why we choose certain paths. More accepting of others…more compassionate. More directed in our actions…more deliberate with our work.
Not all of us will be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, but we can all make an impact on some level. Educate yourself to find meaning in your life, your work and for your future – young or old. In the meantime, check out Malala’s Foundation, the Malala Fund to join her in speaking up for education.
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