It didn’t take the bullets from a would-be assassin’s gun to show how brave Malala Yousufzai is. The 14-year-old Pakistani girl had already shown that time and time again during her young life.
The teenager, who is now fighting for that life in a UK hospital, was targeted last week near her home in northwest Pakistan by a Taliban gunman. He boarded the school bus Malala was on, singled her out and shot her in the head.
Her crime? She wanted an education.
Malala had been a blogger for the BBC, telling the world how difficult it was for girls in Taliban-controlled areas of Pakistan to get an education. And because she promoted what is considered “Western thinking” by the Taliban, she was targeted for death. Her shooting magnifies, in a sickeningly horrific way, the plight of women and girls in some parts of the world. And it has horrified people inside Pakistan and elsewhere.
No matter where one sits on the issue of politics in that region of south Asia, there can be no justifying such a barbaric act—at least not in the mind of any right-thinking, compassionate human being.
Here in the West, we take for granted that everyone, regardless of sex, can pursue any level of education they desire. But that is not the case in some parts of the world.
And the attempt to murder Malala Yousufzai for wanting no more than to learn is a brutal reminder of that, even half a world away in small, peaceful Kelowna B.C.
I have a 16-year-old daughter and, living in Canada, I take for granted the fact she will not only receive the same level of education as any boy her age, she can be as successful in life as she wants to be, based on the effort she puts in.
I tell my daughter she can do anything she puts her mind too. It’s not empty rhetoric. I believe it. And so does she. We live in a society that agrees. My daughter does not have to risk her life everyday simply by going to school. She does not have to adhere to government rules that would keep her uneducated and in poverty. Her education, beyond the prescribed secondary school level, is her choice.
But that is not the case everywhere. The life we take for granted here is very different from the life others in this world live through.
While some may say it is easy to look at life in other parts of the world through the pampered lens of life in a rich, Western country, the shooting of Malala Yousafzai should not be shrugged off as another country’s politics. This is about human rights—basic human rights.
Malala Yousafzai is a hero. At 14, she stood up to a political regime that would hold her and girls like her back, keep them uneducated, keep them dependent on others.
Malala would not let the bullies bully her. But she paid a very heavy price for her bravery. It’s a price no child should ever have to pay.