Malala Marches Toward the Nobel Peace Prize

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Robin Utrecht / Xinhua / Zuma Press

Malala Yousafzai speaks after winning this year's International Children's Peace Prize at The Hague, on Sept. 6, 2013.

This Friday, the Nobel committee announces the 2013 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. As far as global opinion is concerned, the award is a 16-year-old Pakistani girl’s to lose.

Long before she became a global symbol of children’s education, Malala Yousufzai was one girl squirming under the thumb of the Pakistani Taliban, whose draconian interpretation of Islamic law saw girls’ schools closed in her hometown of Mingora in early 2009. In a frank and witty blog published on the BBC Urdu  website under a pseudonym, Malala, then 11-years-old, chafed at the new regulations that limited her freedom, stopped her from learning and kept her from seeing her friends. The pseudonym, of course, was meant to protect her identity, but it was not long before her private persona—the outspoken daughter of a prominent school administrator—meshed with her public one, and she took her demand that a girls’ right to education be recognized across Pakistan to a national audience, appearing several times on TV talk shows and eventually in an international documentary. “I wanted to speak up for my rights,” she told the BBC on Monday, when reminiscing about her early activism. “And also I didn’t want my future to be just sitting in a room and be imprisoned in my four walls and just cooking and giving birth to children. I didn’t want to see my life in that way.”

Malala’s adolescent campaign to educate her country’s girls might have stuttered along with little more than a condescending pat on the head for years—after all, Pakistan, riven by insurgencies, beset by economic crisis and threatened by the advance of a fundamentalist uprising in the tribal areas along the Afghan border, was simply struggling to maintain status quo—but for the fact that the Taliban tried to keep her quiet. On Oct. 9, 2012, long after Malala’s quest had faded from national headlines, a gunman bounded into her school bus one afternoon and shot her point blank in the face.  That Malala survived, with her mind, her voice and her luminous smile still intact, is nothing short of miraculous. Whether that miracle is attributable to God, as Malala says, or to the doctors in Pakistan who performed the initial surgery to relieve swelling on the brain and the surgeons in Birmingham, England who followed up with reconstructive surgery and rehabilitation therapy, is immaterial compared to what she did next. She kept fighting.

Less than four months after the shooting, Malala appeared in a video announcing that she was taking her campaign for girl’s education global through a new charity: “I want every girl, every child to be educated. And for that reason, we have organized Malala Fund.” On March 19, 2013, she returned to school, this time in Birmingham. On July 12, her 16th birthday, she appeared before the United Nations at a specially-convened assembly of 1000 youth leaders to exhort nations to make education a priority. “Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons,” she said in a voice ringing with strength and conviction. “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.”

(MORE: Malala’s global celebrity not matched at home.)

By winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala would join a long list of recipients that have sought to achieve peace through human development, from Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank in 2006 to Médecins Sans Frontières in 1999. To Malala, peace and education are inextricable; without one, you can’t have the other. “I hope that a day will come [when] the people of Pakistan will be free, they will have their rights, there will be peace and every girl and every boy will be going to school,” she told the BBC. Peace, she suggested, starts with a conversation. “The best way to solve problems and to fight against war is through dialogue,” she told the BBC, an exhortation that she hopes her Taliban attackers will follow as well. “They must do what they want through dialogue,” she said. “Killing people, torturing people and flogging people … it’s totally against Islam. They are misusing the name of Islam.”

A Pakistani Taliban spokesman quickly rejoined with a threat, telling AFP “We will target her again and attack whenever we have the chance.” It’s a threat that Malala easily shrugs off. “I don’t know why, but hearing I was being targeted did not worry me,” she wrote about earlier Taliban threats against her and her family in her recently-released autobiography, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. “It seemed to me that everyone knows they will die one day. So I should do whatever I want to do.”  In an appearance Tuesday on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, after he offered to adopt her, Malala recounted an early conversation she had with herself when she first heard of Taliban threats to her life, when she was 12. First, she said, she thought she would hit any Taliban attacker with her shoe—a comment that drew hearty chuckles. She added: “I said to myself, if you hit a Talib with your shoe, there will be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with that much cruelty and harshness. You must fight others, but through peace and through dialogue and through education.” Then, she said to herself, “I will tell him how important education is and that I even want education for [his] children as well.” Even Stewart choked up.

Little seems to have changed in the wake of the shooting. “I was spared for a reason — to use my life for helping people,” she writes in her book. In the BBC interview, she reiterated her desire to return to Pakistan one day to become a politician. One that will make education compulsory for both boys and girls. If anything, she says, the Taliban attack only amplified her voice. “When I was shot they thought the people would be silenced, they thought that no one would talk,” she told the BBC. “I think they might be repenting why they shot Malala.”

255 comments
Cristobal Macawile
Cristobal Macawile

Ignorance is really the cause of violence or war. I hope that through Ms. Malala, all Nations will prioritize the education of their citizens specially the youths. God Bless Ms. Malala. . . .

Lúcia Paiva
Lúcia Paiva

“And also I didn’t want my future to be just sitting in a room and be imprisoned in my four walls and just cooking and giving birth to children. I didn’t want to see my life in that way.”

Geraldo Dias
Geraldo Dias

It's incredible! she's so young, but with a great deal of courage and dignity. Go ahead, Malala! the world is at your side. God bless you!

Roel Bue
Roel Bue

1 of d bravest girl in this planet

Leon Emma
Leon Emma

At least there is someone from Pakistan who can talk on topics other than war and terror. ;)

saurav171
saurav171

I believe this prize should be given to someone who has spent his/her life working for a cause and not who has just begun. We should rather wait and watch this maverick if she can continue with this spirit.

AbdullahYan
AbdullahYan

LOVE MALALA; Malala’s adolescent campaign to educate her country’s girls 

zaglossus
zaglossus

The only problem with giving Malala the Peace Prize is that it will serve as extra motivation for the Taliban to finish the job on her.

zaglossus
zaglossus

Give it to her. The adults in the capitals of the world don't seem to be doing a very good job of promoting peace recently.

Consumers' Choice Award
Consumers' Choice Award

Kudos! Well deserved! She should have every opportunity to grow and make a positive difference in her life and help others to cherish it.

MohammedAbbasi
MohammedAbbasi

Courageous, focused and intelligent - exactly what extremists hate. Good luck Malala we stand in solidarity with you :)

Joy Joy
Joy Joy

malala I lov eyou appi

Aaryan Ch
Aaryan Ch

ya she deserve it may live long malala

Aniaz Ah
Aniaz Ah

What about the younger ones who survived the DRONE attacks???????

Judy Williams
Judy Williams

She really deserves it!! Do the right thing!!

Syed Vkax
Syed Vkax

she is Pakistani dear, we very well that what thinking level she had, what ever she had written or performed was not her, kindly do some research before passing comments then you will not the reality, didnt you ever think that why did not found a single Pakistani that had wrong words about ARFA KARIM, because she was really deserve appriciation, you have ever noticed MALALA's head even, is there even any mark of bullet, a bullet which was hit her on the left side but in pictures she had bullet hit mark on the right side lolz, dear ARFA KARIM and MALALA are Pakistani and we know them v well that how much our girls are talented and capable of, it was just a show off not sacrifice etc,, kindly do some google on MALALA TV SHOW.

Alphonzo Turner
Alphonzo Turner

Can they like have a public vote so it'll be our fault if she doesnt get it?

Lily Ou
Lily Ou

omggg you have a vpn! hehehe yay active tagging will be more fun now! but dude this is awesomeee i feel smart

J Khan Kalriwala
J Khan Kalriwala

۔۔۔..... ملالہ یوسفزئی، ہم آپ کے شکرگزار ہیں .....۔۔۔ شکریہ ملالہ دنیا کے سامنے یہ کہنے کے لئے کہ ایک مُلک پاکستان ہے جہاں کوئی لڑکی سکول جاتی ہے تو اس کے سر میں گولی ماردی جاتی ہے۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔ یہ نہیں کہ صرف کسی مخصوص علاقہ میں چند لڑکیوں کو نشانہ بنایا گیا۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔۔ بلکہ تمام لڑکیوں کے ساتھ ایسا کیا جاتا ہے۔۔۔۔۔۔ بہت بہت شکریہ ملالہ دنیا بھر کے سامنے پاکستانیوں کے متعصب امیج کو تقویت دینے کے لئے۔۔۔۔۔، کہ مسلمان اور پاکستانی تشدد پسند ہیں اور عورتوں کے ساتھ بھیڑ بکریوں کی طرح سلوک کرتے ہیں۔ ہم دل سے مشکور ہیں کہ آپ نے یہودیوں کے کنٹرول کردہ میڈیا کے لئے اتنا اچھا کام کیا۔ جس نے آپ کو اسقدر ذیادہ کوریج دی، اور دنیا کی اتنی بڑی آرگنائزیشن کے سامنے آپ کو بات کہنے کا موقع فراہم کیا۔۔۔۔۔ ہم تہ دل سے شکرگزار ہیں کہ آپ نے ’’یہودی کنٹرول میڈیا‘‘ کے اتنی عزت و احترام کا حق ادا کر دیا۔ میں حیران ہوں کہ انٹرنیشنل کمیونٹی کا کیا ردعمل ہوتا اگر آپ یونائیٹڈ نیشنز کے سامنے اپنی تقریر میں کہتیں کہ امریکہ اور نیٹو نے میرا علاقہ برباد کر دیا، ان کو اب وہاں سے اپنے دہشتگردوں (TTP) کے ساتھ دفع ہوجانا چاہئیے۔؟؟ ملالہ یوسفزئی، آپ ہمارے لئے قابل فخر ہیں۔ آپ نے پاکستانیوں کا سر فخر سے بلند کر دیا۔..

Lulu Tao
Lulu Tao

hahaha ohmygosh:) dude she's like "trending" now

Erica Perry
Erica Perry

I'd like to see what Nadia would do if she was shot in the head...

Shawon Nazrul Islam
Shawon Nazrul Islam

There are so many people who dedicated themselves for people.I can give you an example.You know Valerie Taylor ? { http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valerie_Taylor_%28physiotherapist%29 } She is a british woman living in Bangladesh.She is living in Bangladesh and working for people.Even she did not marry.She left Britain and living in a poor country like Bangladesh....Malala is nothing if you compare her with the person like Valerie Taylor.Why Malala ?Why ?I don't think Noble Prize is a joke.

kon-tiki
kon-tiki

Malala, IS a creation of the MEDIA. Period. 

Shawon Nazrul Islam
Shawon Nazrul Islam

Well what she did was really valuable and inspiring.I salute her.But does she can get Noble Prize ?If you say she almost sacrificed her life for people then I would say there are many people in the world who sacrificed {but not killed} their whole life for people.Why don't you consider them ?They are working for people.May be you know Malala because Malala did something against Taliban and luckily she got media's attention.If she really get the Noble it will be really a funny....

Eric Nilson
Eric Nilson

ela merece, grande garota... já enquanto ao Putin não.. ele e um déspota, sanguinário tem um currículo de crimes e mão suja. agora que ele fez um ato de paz na questão da síria.

Imms Bloch
Imms Bloch

Nobel Peace Prize should be given to Osama Bin La Deen (King of Drama) where the story begun!

uaeyah
uaeyah

Malala visited the UAE recently to meet w General Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan- Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. Sheikh Mohamed is an extraordinary man who was behind flying Malala out of Pakistan right after being shot and he generously took responsibility of her treatment. After Malala's I was inspired and wrote this article titled- Education is a Right not a Privilege. 

http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/uae-firmly-believes-in-right-to-education-for-all-1.1197026
Regards, Sheikha (@uaeyah)

zaglossus
zaglossus

@Consumers' Choice Award She hasn't won yet.