A 16 year old girl from Pakistan, wants the same things I do, education for everyone. On Friday July 12, 2013, she stood up in front of the UN and gave a rousing speech calling on the UN to provide “free” and “compulsory education” for all.
Malala is an incredibly mature, bright, and eloquent young woman. In 2009, when Malala was in the seventh grade, she began blogging for BBC Urdu online. The blog, “Diary of a Pakastani Schoolgirl” was in response to the Taliban extremist regime’s banning of public education for girls and destruction of over 150 schools (currently near 600 schools).
The idea that anyone would want to keep their daughters from learning more is a thing I can barely comprehend. Is there any other reason to have children than to give them the world? Is not the point to love a being more than yourself, to do everything in your power to make sure that little babe feels the most loved, the most nurtured, the most supported, so that he or she can then go on and do all the things that this world needs to be a better place?
So, why then, are women being denied access to education? Why is THIS our world? There is no protection greater, no support more tightly knit, no chance for success more real and tangible, than being fully informed and equipped to deal with all that the world will throw your way. Education is the answer, always.
I grew up in British Columbia, in what I would consider an upper middle class household. Education was not only something that I always had access to, but something that was assumed. No one, but myself, ever seemed to doubt my potential for success. In grade seven, my teacher caught me not paying attention in class. He asked me what I was doing, to which I responded that I was writing a story for a competition. Instead of reprimanding me for my lack of studiousness, he set up a table and chair in the hallway, for me to write until I was finished. In highschool, I suffered a great deal with depression and often missed classes. My marks never really suffered though because teachers would allow me to do the work on my own, chance having supplied me with a brain for which this was easily doable. No one ever seemed to doubt my potential or abilities. When it was time to apply for early admission to University, I simply did. There was never even a thought in my brain that I wouldn’t get at least a Bachelor’s degree. Now in 2013, I write this blog post in the summer between my 1st and 2nd year of a Master of Arts program, having already earned two separate Bachelor’s degrees (one in Psychology and one in English Literature). The world is and has always been my oyster and it is for that reason that I believe so strongly in the education of women. It breaks my heart to know that other women don’t have the encouragement, support, access, and freedom that I always did (and this is probably why I have the luxury and desire to dedicate my life to these ends).
Now, back to Malala and the education of women. This brave young girl has none of the advantages I have in life (except maybe a father who thinks she can change the world) and yet here she is, asking the UN to repair the cracks that women are falling through. She was shot by a member of the taliban and survived (though her life still remains under threat). She stood up in front of the world and asked for change. I want to be a part of the change that answers her back.
However, this brings up a question I often struggle with. When it comes to the tangible aspect of changing the world, the How, the What, the Who, I find myself overwhelmed. How do I know if a charity is trustworthy? How do I make the biggest impact? In a world of billions struggling, where do I start?
My Dad recently sent me an email After you graduate we can go somewhere and help build a habitat for humanity and it got me thinking. What are the most imminent threats to female education? Extremism? Access to clean water? Housing? Birth Control? Feminine Hygiene products? Literal access to education (you can’t go to school if there is no school to go to)?
I don’t yet have any answers. But I hope too. Soon. Until then, think about Malala, think about the education of women, think about how we’re going to change this world…for the better (and feel free to share those thoughts with me 😉
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