It’s been a year since Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani girl crusading for women’s education rights, was shot by the Taliban. It was a shocking, violent wake-up call for the rest of the world: what Yousafzai and other women must endure under the repressive regime for simply wanting to learn.
In the year since surviving the gunmen’s attack, Malala Yousafzai spent time in the U.K. recovering. The trauma of surviving a gunshot to the head might have been enough to silence any of us.
But not Malala Yousafzai.
Instead of backing down, she has been bolstered by the events which brought her to the world stage and she is taking advantage of the opportunity to spread her cause. She is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, the youngest ever and considered the front-runner for the award, which will be announced Friday, October 11. Tuesday, a day before the anniversary of her shooting, saw the release of her memoir, I am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban.
Malala Yousafzai addressed the United Nations Assembly in July, imploring the nations of the world for universal access to education.
I speak – not for myself, but for all girls and boys. I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. Those who have fought for their rights:
Their right to live in peace.
Their right to be treated with dignity.
Their right to equality of opportunity.
Their right to be educated.
“The European Parliament acknowledges the incredible strength of this young woman,” said Martin Schulz, president of the EU legislature. “Malala bravely stands for the right of all children to be granted a fair education. This right for girls is far too commonly neglected.”
Yousafzai even took the time to appear on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Tuesday evening on the day of her book release. Stewart, honored and humbled by her presence, had spoken with her before the taping and told Malala, “Nothing feels better than making you laugh.” He then asked her what she would do if she faced the Taliban assassin again, and her answer was also humbling.
“I’ll tell him how important education is, and that I even want education for your children as well,” Yousafzai said Tuesday. “And I would tell him, ‘that’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.'”
What has Malala Yousafzai taught us? She has taught us that there are certain inalienable rights which all of us deserve, regardless of race, gender or creed. She has reminded us of the strength and indomitable power of the human spirit. Above all, she has taught us this, part of her speech to the Un:
“One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.”