“Technically he shot the girl he was meant to shoot, but in every other way, he shot the wrong girl.” – Khaled Hosseini
July 13th marked Malala’s 18th birthday. Unlike most girls her age, Malala spent the day opening a school for young girls in Syria and asking more of the international community with regards to their support of education. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, many people took the opportunity to remind the world of their conspiracy theories around Malala. While Malala has become a global symbol of peace in the name of Islam, at home it’s quite the contrary. Somehow, she isn’t given the respect that the youngest Nobel Prize recipient deserves.
Before dismissing Malala’s contribution to the efforts of education, the least one can do is learn a bit about her and her journey that won her the Nobel Prize.
Malala started blogging against the Taliban in 2009 when she was 11.
When the Taliban took over her village, she started writing about her experiences for BBC under the pseudonym “Gul Makai.” And it was because her campaign against the Taliban that Malala was specifically targeted by the Taliban.
Before being attacked by the Taliban, Malala had already made a name for herself as the first recipient of Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize.
She was given this award in December 2011 for her continued work in favor of education while standing up against the Taliban.
Malala was targeted and shot by the Taliban when she was 15 years old in 2012 because she had been advocating for girls’ right to an education.
The Pakistani government, military and credible news organizations around the world accept this account, yet some people still believe it to be a hoax.
After recovering, Malala committed herself to fight for women’s education and launched the Malala Fund in 2013.
The aim of the Malala fund is to help young girls attend school and raise awareness of how poorly young girls in Pakistan and other developing countries are treated. The first grant was for the education of 40 girls in Pakistan, after which Angelina Jolie donated $200,000 to further Malala’s efforts.
She addressed the United Nations on her 16th birthday.
In her first appearance since she was shot, Malala spoke to the UN and called for worldwide access to education. Oh, and fun fact: the UN dubbed July 12th Malala Day.
In 2014, Malala became the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for “her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”
She is the second Pakistani to receive a Nobel Prize, the first one being awarded to Dr. Abdus Salam in 1979 for physics. She is also the only Pakistani to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.
Malala became a global voice for the Nigerian girls abducted by Boko Haram.
Back in July 2014, Malala met then Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to raise awareness against the injustice committed by Boko Haram. She urged him to meet the parents of all 219 schoolgirls that had been kidnapped while also furthering his commitment to bring them back safely.
Malala marked her 18th birthday by opening a school for girls in Syria.
The school aims to provide quality education to Syrian girls living in informal camps. Oh and she also announced a new grant of $250,000 (£161,000) to support Unicef and UNHCR refugee programmes in Jordan.
Pakistan’s first Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Abdus Salam, wasn’t given the respect he deserved. After winning the Nobel Prize, Dr. Abdus Salam was banned from lecturing at public universities due to pressure from right-wing students and religious conservatives. On the contrary, he was given due respect everywhere outside of his native Pakistan.
After his death, religious conservatives forcibly had the word “Muslim” removed from the inscription on Dr. Abdus Salam’s grave.
Government, military and media outlets all verify that Malala was targeted and shot by the Taliban. Coming back to Pakistan is a significant security risk for Malala although she as expressed multiple times that she wishes to return to Pakistan.
After facing so much hatred and violence for promoting peace, hasn’t she earned the respect of her own country?