The Fight Goes On: The International Malala Day


One month after the 15-year-old Pakistani education activist, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban, the United Nations called upon the international community to observe November 10 as the International Malala Day. The UN special envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown marked the significance of this event that “country after country is adopting Malala as its symbol for a girl’s right to school [as the] Malala Day is being celebrated with events in more than 100 countries”. It has symbolized that the fight of Malala and 32 million girls more for their basic rights of education will go on, and the world is in solidarity with ensuring education for every single child across the globe.

Malala’s story has touched millions of people. She started writing a blog for the BBC describing people’s lives in her community under the Taliban’s rule – where girls are prevented from going to school because the regime believes girls’ education is an obscenity – and expressing her views on promoting female education at the age of 11. Ever since then she has been a prominent figure for basic education for youth in Pakistan. Her effort in raising voice for female education has brought her both domestic and international recognition: she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by Desmond Tutuand has won Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize.

In October this year, the entire world was shocked and angered by the fact that this brave girl was shot in the head just because she wanted to go to school. The Taliban is surely to be condemned, but it is also because of this terrible incident Malala’s story has gained unprecedented media coverage and the education issues in Pakistan has gained international attention: the country spends less than 2.7% of its GDP on education and its official literacy rate is a mere 58 per cent, much lower than international standards (CIA world factbook). As a response, the UN special envoy for Global Education has recently reached an agreement with the Pakistani government that they would work together to draw up a costed plan with a timetable for implementation by next year in order to make sure that by 2015 all school-aged children would be entitled to primary education. Also to pay tribute to the contributions that Malala has made, four new schools, a center for Women’s studies and a postgraduate institute will be established under her name within the Pakistani territory. Moreover, a broad groups of individuals, inspired by Malala’s determination and courage, set up the Malala Fund which Malala herself can direct and use to pursue her visions after she recovers (more). It is the best proof of individuals’ power in changing a nation, and even the world.

In the 21st century, we can no longer tolerate keeping children out of school and certainly no single child should be denied of her fundamental right because of her gender and ethnicity. Malala is a voice of youth, female and humanity and we as global citizens should come together and support what she stands for. If youth education is ensured, a better future awaits ahead.

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