I’m sure you have all heard about Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl who was recently shot in the head for her advocacy work for girls’ access to education.
An excerpt from her diary, 5 January 2009
"I was getting ready for school and about to wear my uniform when I remembered that our principal had told us not to wear uniforms and come to school wearing normal clothes instead. So I decided to wear my favourite pink dress. Other girls in school were also wearing colourful dresses. During the morning assembly we were told not to wear colourful clothes as the Taliban would object to it."
According to the information received, Ms. Malala Yousafzai was reportedly shot by three unidentified gunmen from the Taliban, in the bus taking children home from school after a mid-term exam.
The incident occurred in the city of Mingora situated in the Swat valley, North West Pakistan, as the bus was coming from Khushal Public School. Ms Yousafzai was shot in the head and a second shot injured her in the neck area. (source: The Observatory, FIDH, OMCT 11/10/2012)
Malala started campaigning for girls’ education when she was just 11, blogging for the BBC Urdu. After a period of exile, she returned to her home. During 2009, Malala began to appear on television and publically advocate female education. She has become a heroine for girls all around the world, winning the National Peace Award in Pakistan - subsequently renamed the National Malala Peace Prize - for those under 18 years old. In 2011 she was nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize by The KidsRights Foundation.
"Malala was the lone voice in that wilderness," writes Feryal Gauhar in the local Express Tribune. "Hers was the voice which made us consider that indeed, there can be alternatives, and there can be resistance to all forms of tyranny. Today, the attempt to silence that voice shall only make her stronger; the blood stains on her school uniform shall only feed the conviction that as long as there is breath and life, there shall be struggle. Malala rose to heights few of us can aspire to," adds Gauhar. (source: BBC)
Malala was transferred to a hospital in the UK where she is making good progress, though the Taliban spokespersons have said that she will not be spared should she recover.
I am humbled by this young woman, with the courage and grace to speak out for what she believes, for a better future for herself, her peers, and her country, for something that so many of us take for granted. For education.
I ask you to pause for just a moment to take action to support Malala in the hope that her courageous acts will not be vein, but will transform lives for girls who must fight for their basic human right to education.
Write a letter. Our partners at AWID are supporting this action from the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). Click HERE to see a template letter and find addresses.
Sign a petition. Avaaz.org is hosting an international petition to deliver to Pakistan’s President Zardari. Click HERE to add your voice and to share on social media.
Join a campaign. The Office of the UN Special Envoy for Global Education has launched a campaign to support Malala. Click HERE to join and learn more.
Alice Wells, International President 2011-2013
(also available on SI's website: http://www.soroptimistinternational.org/presidents-message)