How Malala Could Change the World -- and Win a Nobel Prize

5 years ago

She is now able to sit up in bed and read. Which by itself seems a miracle given her fate seemed so grim after the 15-year-old was shot in the head by a Taliban militant.

But this week Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, sent a moving video message from his daughter’s hospital room in England. He wanted to let us know his brave young daughter is doing remarkably well. But the Pakistani educator also wanted to thank the world for the letters and get well cards and good wishes and love. As he spoke, you could see Malala sitting at a table in her hospital room. She was holding a teddy bear.

Call me a bit sensitive, but the sight of this gentle man’s unabashed love for his daughter moved me to tears.

Here‘s part of what he said:

Malala is recovering well and wants me to tell you she has been inspired and humbled by the thousands of cards, messages and gifts that she has received. She wants me to tell everyone how grateful she is — and is amazed that men, women and children from across the world are interested in her well-being.

Malala was viewed as an enemy by the Taliban because of her advocacy for peace and her fierce belief that girls deserve an education. But in their attempt to kill her, the Taliban only elevated the fearless young teenager and her humble cause. I am not surprised to hear that a campaign has been launched to nominate her for the Nobel Peace Prize. A Canadian man named Tarek Fatah, who describes himself as an Indian born in Pakistan and is co-founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, has gathered more than 90,000 names on his online petition for Malala.

On the website a young Pakistani woman wrote:

Malala doesn’t just represent one young woman, she speaks out for all those who are denied an education purely on the basis of their gender. I am one of those women. I was born in the UK but when I was 16 I was taken out of school, sent to Pakistan and forced into a marriage.

While my friends completed their GCSE’s and A-levels I was trapped, afraid of what would happen to me if I resisted. Eventually, I managed to escape back to the UK and when I was 28 I was finally able return to education, but I still think about the years I missed. I also think about all the other girls in our communities today who are in the same situation.

I know there are girls like Malala here in the UK. A Nobel Peace Prize for Malala will send a clear message that the world is watching and will support those who stand up for gender equality and universal human rights, including the right to education for girls.

If there is justice, some greater good might ultimately come from Malala’s tragedy. Gordon Brown, the former prime minister of England, and now the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, is spearheading a movement to educate children. And he is asking Pakistan to commit to the movement’s goals: to educate every child in the world; to outlaw discrimination worldwide against girls; and for international groups to educate the 61 million children who are not in school by the end of 2015. You can find Brown’s online petition on the UN’s website.

Last Saturday the petition was delivered by Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, on Malala Day, an occasion devoted to the U.N’s global support campaign for her. It was also, far less signficantly, my birthday. If millions more children are educated because of Malala’s example and courage, what a gift that would be.

(Credit Image: © Sajjad/Xinhua/

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