Most people in Western cultures have heard of Malala Yousafzai, the teenager from Pakistan who was targeted by the Taliban simply for claiming that education for girls is a human right. She’s recently published an autobiography detailing her life in Pakistan under the Taliban, her struggles to advance the cause of education for girls, the attack that nearly took her life, and her road to recovery. The book is a riveting testimonial of the resiliance of this remarkable young woman.
Like many memoirs of this kind, Malala begins with a description of her life before the Taliban took control of her native valley of Swat, focusing on family, home life, and school. She details how the region’s political and social unrest impacted the lives of everyone in her community. Without the dryness of a history book, the volume presents a brief history of Pakistan, emphasizing how precarious life is for everyone who lives there, especially women, and the men who advocate for them. She includes a discussion of familiar current events, such as the devastating 7.2 earthquake in October of 2008, the 9/11 attacks, the 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto, and the removal of Osama bin Laden in 2011. Throughout the narrative, Malala maintains a clear, determined, but humble voice insisting that all children, boys and girls, have the right to be educated. And that’s why the Taliban targeted her for assassination.
Malala is not a teacher, but she certainly is a champion for education. Her valiant campaign, despite the dangers, on behalf of equal education for girls presents a lesson in courage for us all.
The book, entitled I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, was published 2013 in New York by Little, Brown and Company. It is easily available at Barnes and Noble or on amazon.com.