So there’s this teenage girl named Malala Yousafzai. She lives in Pakistan. And she wants to go to school so she can learn. But in her country, that’s not something girls are really allowed to do. In fact, the Taliban culture there operates on the belief that it’s unnecessary, distracting, and even dangerous in some eyes to educate a woman.
But Malala was special. She was determined. And she was raised by a father who was an educational activist, and ran a chain of schools known as the Khushal Public School. And so it was that she began to dream of having more. She dreamt of going to school herself.
“How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?”
She started writing a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC detailing her experiences and struggles under Taliban rule. And people started to listen. She was asked to interviews and television appearances. She was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by South African activist Desmond Tutu.
Then on Tuesday, 9 October 2012, while Malala was on her way to school in the northwest Pakistani district of Swat, a man got on her school bus, asked for her by name, and then fired 3 shots at her. One of the bullets struck through the left side of her face and lodged into her shoulder near her spinal cord.
She was in a coma in critical condition with a 70% chance of survival. She underwent brain surgery, and was moved from hospital to hospital. Until she finally emerged from her coma a week later, miraculously without any brain damage.
The assassination attempt was received with worldwide media coverage and responses of sympathy and anger. People protested, sent donations and wrote articles defending her. Malala and her father refused to leave their country, but rather were determined to stay and fight for their rights. Malala was featured as as one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World“. And she was awarded Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize.
But perhaps the most significant development that rose out of this horrid experience was the hope it inspired. United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown visited Malala when she was in the hospital, and decided to launch a UN petition in her name, using the slogan “I am Malala”. The petition demanded that all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015, and ultimately lead to the ratification of Pakistan’s first Right to Education Bill.
On Saturday, July 12th, Malala turned 17 and finished another year of school. Now today, on July 14th, we celebrate Malala Day in honor of her struggles, her fight for survival, and the fight for women all over the world to have a right to education.
Even their bullets couldn’t silence her. And nothing can silence us Tough Cookies! Malala is one of us, a Tough Cookie, and her fight is our fight. So this day serves as a reminder for us all.
Happy Malala Day my fellow Tough Cookies, and remember to never give up!
Source: Marie Forleo
Writer. Producer. Editor. Warrior. And one Tough Cookie!