Malala, 16, is the Pakistani girl who lived in the Swat Valley and was shot in the head one year ago in a Taliban attack on a school bus en route to school. Her crime? Being an advocate of education for girls. She wrote a blog/diary for the BBC under a pseudonym about the cruelty happening to children under the Taliban rule and about the interruption in girls’ education because of the Taliban’s ban on it.
The shooting came after a Taliban gunman asked the busload of girls “Who is Malala?” One of other girls identified Malala, resulting in her being shot twice to ensure she was killed. Instead, she was treated at a hospital in England and survived. She now lives at a gated home in Birmingham, England, with her family while she attends school there. Instead of the heinous act silencing Malala, as the shooter intended, it has amplified her voice and vigilance to expand education of girls around the world.
Her message is so widespread and humanitarian in nature that she was considered a leading contender for the recently awarded Nobel Peace Prize. Though she didn’t win the award, her influence still is powerful.
A choir group, “Girls of the World,” created an inspirational song and music video, titled “I Am Malala” — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAi2pY7b0MQ — which is focused on empowering girls. The lyrics of the urban rap song include “I say, the smarter the girl, then the stronger our world” and “Malala fought for education and she fought for her life. It’s hard to strive to be better when oppressed by the suppressors / treated like a lesser. Just be clever.”
These girls clearly believe as they stated in the song that “with the power of a speech we can change our world and how it is perceived ... be the change you want to see — take a look through my eyes.”
Funds from the downloadable song and a book by the same name, written with the British journalist Christina Lamb, go to the Malala fund, which helps pay for educational efforts for girls across the world.
Though as stated in the song, “Nobody is looking for truth in the youth,” Malala gave these singers and indeed other girls around the world, a voice and infinite hope. The inspiration she provides goes well beyond youth. Malala made an appearance this week on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” — http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-october-8-2013/exclusive---malala-yousafzai-extended-interview-pt--1 — a quasi-news comedy program on Comedy Central. Stewart was seemingly so awed and humbled by Malala’s pacifism through her fervent advocacy of peace, education and dialogue rather than violence, that he stepped outside his usual funnyman persona in the presence of such an idyllic individual.
— Jeanny Sharp,
editor and publisher