Thursday, October 11, 2012


When I think of Malala Yousaf Zai, aside from how much it hurts my heart to have learned of her suffering, I feel a surge of pride.  As a woman I am inspired in the face of this young girl's activism.  As a human being I am outraged at the attack made on her by the Taliban.

In case some of you don't know who this brave child is, Malala Yousaf Zai is a fourteen year old female activist from Pakistan.  When she was just 11 years old she started a blog in which she discussed what it was like to live under the thumb of the Taliban.  The regime had taken control over the Swat Valley, the area in which she lives, and had banned girls from attending school.  She eventually got the Pakistani military to oust the Taliban from the valley.  Not only were girls allowed to attend school again, but Malala won Pakistan's first National Peace Prize.

Yousaf Zai has been greatly influenced by her poet and activist father, Ziauddin, who also runs several schools.  Malala initially wished to be a doctor, but her father feels she is very special and has encouraged her to become a politician.

Malala's primary concern has been the education of girls.  Since 2008 the Taliban has destroyed over 150 schools in the hopes of preventing girls from becoming educated.  Many of her blog entries detail her fear of being killed by the Taliban, and these fears manifested in nightmares.  She writes:
"I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taleban. I have had such dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat. My mother made me breakfast and I went off to school. I was afraid going to school because the Taleban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools.

Only 11 students attended the class out of 27. The number decreased because of Taleban's edict. My three friends have shifted to Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi with their families after this edict.

On my way from school to home I heard a man saying 'I will kill you'. I hastened my pace and after a while I looked back if the man was still coming behind me. But to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone."
On October 9, 2012 these fears became a reality when she was shot in the head and neck on her way home from school.  A Taliban gunmen approached the students on a bus and asked which one was Malala.  He indicated that if she did not come forward, he would kill everyone.  Being the brave young woman she is, she stepped forward and he shot her twice.

Even though they were able to remove the bullet that lodged in her spine she is suffering from severe cerebral edema and will be under sedation for another 24 hours.  The other bullet has damaged the left side of her brain, the part of the brain said to be responsible for language and critical thinking.  Doctors are optimistic and feel her condition is improving.

Since the attack there have been protests against the Taliban, and a huge outpouring of support for Yousaf Zai and her family.  Pakistani authorities are offering a $100,000 reward for the capture of the gunman.  The Taliban is threatening to kill her if she survives.

I’d like to think that if she doesn’t survive, that the people of Pakistan would rise up and tear down the Taliban regime.  There is nothing more powerful than an angry mob fighting against unrighteous acts of violence and oppression.  They have it within their power to do so, if they can lose their fear and fight with everything they have. 

How cowardly, and shameful to be so afraid of women becoming educated that you would have to attempt to take the life of a child.  This wasn’t about politics; this was a flat out misogynist attack, because the Taliban hate women. 

I long to hear news of Malala’s recovery, but if by some tragic circumstances she doesn’t make it, I long to hear that it wasn’t in vain.  The women of Pakistan have a responsibility to her, as she risked her life for her gender.  If this little girl is willing to take a bullet for what she believes in, then the whole of the Muslim community can join forces to strong-arm the Taliban out of power.  May the people of Pakistan rise up and rip out the heart of the Taliban.  May they speak with one voice, and with one fist of righteous fury, may they change their nation forever.

Please check out this documentary, made by Adam B. Ellick in 2009.  It shares some lovely moments between Malala and her father.  

You can view her blog, here.


  1. Bravo for illuminating the heroism of this little girl in the face of the current horrific assault against women in much of the world. Your post was heartwarming, inspirational and critically necessary for women in the West; I deeply hope we will feel a sense of sisterhood with the oppressed upon reading this post. Not only do the mobs in Pakistan need to eradicate the archaic and brutal Taliban, women need to form a cohesive chain of unity. Enough with the rampant narcissism, materialism and irreverence to world events such as these I see all too often here in Los Angeles.... May Malala's courageous message reach all of us....

    1. Hello Anonymous! I only just saw this comment now, but wanted to reach out and thank you for your well-thought out and poignant reply. I hope to hear from you again!

  2. OMG I hope she makes it! :'(


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