Just as I was writing yesterday’s entry, this story appeared on CNN. I was trying to decide who would come next, and the timely news seemed perfectly appropriate for today’s profile. This week, Malala Yousafzai, 14, was awarded Pakistan’s first ever National Peace Prize- and she did it by blogging!
From the Swat Valley, one of the most conservative regions of Pakistan (under Taliban control until 2009), Malala used the Internet to record her frustrations with the restrictive community, especially concerning the limits of female education. Her father had been principal of the local girls’ school, and when the Taliban shut it down, she lost her education, along with other girls in the town. Malala, aged just eleven at the time, did not back down. Instead, she took to the Internet and told her story. She reported raids by militants who would check to see if they were studying or watching television, and described hiding books so that they would not be confiscated. Faced with the loss of her education and opportunities, she was able to bring attention to the situation and confront the oppressive society which threatened her future. The consequences for this outspokenness could have been horrific, even for someone of her age, and yet she demonstrated incredible courage and principle. Even with significant obstacles ahead of her, she has plans for a great future- she intends to continue her work for women’s rights, and to ensure that girls in Pakistan may receive an education equal to that of their brothers. Down the road, she hopes to be a political leader. She is already achieving notability as a speaker, in addition to her blogging. Click here to see her in an interview.
The National Peace Prize will be awarded every year to a person under 18 who makes a significant contribution to peace or education in Pakistan. Malala was also nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize. She is proof that, regardless of age, women can bring change to their communities, and to the world. Congratulations, Malala, for all of your success, and good luck for your promising future! We all support you in your efforts.