[su_note note_color=”#ecc2d1″ text_color=”#000000″]Name: Malalah Yousafzai
Parents’ name: Toorpekai Yousafzai (mother), Ziauddin Yousafzai
Home place: Pakistan
Residence: Birmingham, England
Date of Birth: 12 July 1997
Occupation: Blogger, Child and Female Education Activist
Field of social activism: Rights to education and for women
Biggest award: Nobel Peace Prize[/su_note]
[su_heading size=”16″ align=”left”]Malalah Yusafzai – The wonder girl[/su_heading]
[su_note note_color=”#e9f48f” text_color=”#000000″]
Swat is located just 160 kms from Islamabad. It is also known as the Switzerland of Pakistan. Malalah, who belongs to this terror-prone valley, no doubt, was just an ordinary girl like her peers; however she still enjoyed something extraordinary among them owing to her courage and ideological potency. She wanted to do something great for others as she believed that everyone lives for himself but what is new in it! So she chose the path of courageous struggle because she learnt very early that to add strength and value to her ‘universal fight’ for the restoration of the fundamental rights as granted by birth to each and every child, she had to face varied and excruciating difficulties.
Thinking that the moment they step out of their houses, Talibanis, Islamic fundamentalists, would shoot them, nobody from Malalah village, located in Swat valley, dared to come out and they preferred to enjoy the comfort and warmth of their houses but it was she only who didn’t get shatter and feel coward rather she openly challenged the inglorious hegemony of the Taliban.
The word ‘Malalah’ means ‘full of sorrow’ but instead of being dejected and desperate, Malalah fought the evil forces of her valley with enormous passion and unflinching human courage. The vision of her father regarding Malalah was so great that he kept her name after the name of a famous folk singer, Malaalaai, who belonged to the Pashtun tribe of Afghanistan. Ziauddin yusafzai, her father, who manages a school, perceived very early that her daughter would definitely do wonder and earn name and fame for them.
Her father infused in her such time-testing values and ideological strength that she didn’t even feel timid against the hard-line Talibanis , who believe in polygamy i.e can keep four women at a time, who suppress and oppress women, deal with them like a commodity, attack on their fundamental and human rights, murder them on any pretext, take women as bonded slaves, consider them an extra load on the shoulders of society, have no respect and value for their dignity and who bar them from going to schools and markets. One can clearly perceive that in spite of savagious and brutish mentality of the Talibanis, Malalah, who was just a minor girl at that time, didn’t even budge an inch from her dare-devil struggle against their terror and execrable deeds.
In 2009 when she was in class seventh, she came to hear that the Talibanis had issued a fatwa or religious edict that no girl would try to go to school and they must be confined to their homes, Malalah raised this issue with her father and showed impeculiar courage by stressing that she wouldn’t get discouraged and afraid rather she would go to school and moreover the matter didn’t end there, she wrote a passionate poem and got her poem published in one of the papers of Rawalpindi.
Malalah wasn’t created in a moment as by a stroke of magic brush but she had already been working before that fateful day when she was shot down point blankly by those coward and hardcore Talibanis who got completely intimidated by even her tenderness and innocence. It was only the values and streamlined parenting of her father Ziauddin that she was able to start speaking fluently even from her primary classes. With the guidelines of her father – who was also a social activist and who earlier had worked for ‘Quomi Jigra’ for the care and upliftment of the old – Malalah started taking part in the intra school debates, wrote poems and moreover she would also discuss with her teachers the degenerating plight of social conditions around her.
Her mother used to remain under veil but she wanted her daughter to live in the open air of women liberalization and individualistic freedom. Her school’s principal Mariyam Khaaliki felt proud of her matchless characteristic traits and her ideological clarity. Her inclination towards writing poems at the very tender age and also making a crystally-cleared interpretation of them signaled to her father that she would definitely do something great in her life.
Famous for being a child activist, the dreams of Malalah weren’t as big as like that of her peers who wanted to lead a normal life by going to school, playing with her mates, living happy life with her family. Was her thinking, which was a peculiar one, wrong? But the Talibanis put ban and restraint on her thinking.
She openly declared her creative and progressive hostility against the Talibanis by asserting that they under the disguise of Islam are misguiding the innocent people of Swat valley and are, therefore, keeping their children deprived of elementary education so that their bold and brave voice could be suppressed in their tender age.
Malalah openly and challengingly boycotted the orthodox-cum-perilous ideology of the Talibanis and wrote undauntingly and boldly and that too without an iota of fear and cowardice. She wrote and made the people of the valley aware and enlightened about their rights and promulgated that to enjoy their each and every human right is their birthright and nobody can keep them devoid of such universal freedom and dignity of human birth. She motivated and sworn her school mates to come to school without taking into consideration any threats of Talibanis.
BBC Urdu needed a small girl who could write a blog meant purely to expose the undemocratic and inhumanely practices of the Taliban. BBC Urdu had been loking for such a brave girl who had got unflinching courage and mental strength and their hard effort paid dividends in the form of Malalah. She started writing under a pseudonym ‘Gul Makai’. She got busy writing a diary in the form of a blog and all the credit goes to his father who instead of getting afraid and self-centered, as most parents would be, willfully allowed her daughter to do such national and heroic task.
Her writing was crystal cleared, full of courage, deep insightfulness and a keen perception to understand the prevailing conditions of the suffering school going girls.
Clarity of thoughts, undimmed passion towards writing, and great reservoir of courage is needed to perceive the grim reality of one’s surroundings but in Malalah all these qualities were present genetically. She was confident and outspoken by birth.
The reality was that the indomitable and unflinching mettle through which she used to write the diary for the BBC Urdu service had become a big social and political hurdle for the dogmatic and traditional hegemony of the Taliban. She wrote diary for the BBC Urdu anonymously and challenged Talibani’s Shariyat Law.
Not only the Talibanis but also the people of Swat were thinking that the girl named ‘Gul Makai’ who had been writing a diary for the BBC Urdu service would be a mature woman but when the reality dawned on them – that it was none other than their own 11-year old Malalah their surprise and happiness knew no bounds.
Taliban got frowned and bellicose when they came to know about the ascending and snowballing popularity of Malalah. They became infurious and anxious and were panting hard to know who in reality Malaala was. It was only after the military operation got finalized after pushing back and chasing out the entire Talibanis from Swat Valley that the Talibanis came to know about her.
She took up the gauntlets and with her strength of conviction decided to go to school and wear her school uniform and this act of her bravery to preserve the dignity of school going girls provoked the ire of the Talibanis. She was held responsible for inciting and making the people of Swat rebellious against their long held doctrine of suppression and oppression. She didn’t get at all afraid that the path she had chosen is full of thorns, difficulties and enormous struggle.
The more the Taliban kept threatening and brandishing her with the dire consequences to her family and her life the more she raised the frequency and the tone of her rebellious voice and the day was not too far when she got placed on the pedestal of national appreciation and universal acclaim and thus winning the hearts and souls of everybody who came to know about her, were it either be a laborer working on a road or a president of any country. Being unintimidated and unafraid and by taking a hard-nose approach towards the terrorization and militarization of her Swat, she kept the lamp of fighting eternally burning for the posterity.
Everybody who saw her video over the internet couldn’t help singing song of praises for her and thereby becoming fan of her. Her voice against the Taliban didn’t give any single impression of innocence and childfulness, instead it felt that a woman of dignified stature is speaking from a stage.
Fear and cowardice was long way from her dignified personality and this was the reason that the luminescence of her thoughts didn’t get dimmed even in the darkness of Talibani culture and she steadfastly maintained her stance of rebellion and progressive revolution against them. And thus, seeing her strength of character and ideology personified in her inspirational writing the whole of the Talibanis got meek and weak at their knees. It was only her moral courage, fearless approach and love for humanity that she has now become the paragon of indomitable strength and one’s rights.
“The day will come when we have to die then why should we live in constant fear of the Talibanis and so let us add a dignified meaning to our lives by raising our voices against them.” This was the line which she used to inspire and motivate the parents and the children of Swat.
She has become the symbol of human struggle, voice against dogmatic ideology and progressive revolution. Her age didn’t hinder her from taking such a grand scale struggle. Malalaha’s voice has infused a spirit of bravery into the shrunken hearts and souls of those girls around the globe who still feel entrapped and confined within the walls of oppression and male dominance.
Adam Alik, a famous Hollywood director got so much inspired and motivated after knowing about the heroic deeds of Malalah that he made a classic documentary ‘ Class Dismissed’ in collaboration with New York Times. She got such social and political mileage that she also started taking part in the project ‘Open Minds’ (of ‘Institute for war and peace reporting’) , a mission started to instill writing skills in the students from 42 schools. Not only this she also spoke at Geo Tv in their talk show ‘A Morning with Farah.’
Her popularity gained such unbelievable height and universal acceptance that the Talibanis felt a great threat to their dominance and thus after keeping a regular watch on her they finally made an evil plan to assassinate her in such a manner that no girl from the valley could again raise her voice against them. The fateful day was 9-10-2012, Malalah was, as usually, returning from her school in a school bus when she was pounced on by the sharp shooters of the Taliban who fired continuous shots on her and she got grievously injured.
She was immediately taken to Peshawar Military Hospital where she was operated upon. But still her condition was so precarious and critical that the Pakistani government didn’t want to take any risk so eventually it was decided that Malalah should be shifted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, London on 15-10-2012.
As a bullet had inflicted her grievously, grazing her brain, she remained in comatose position from 16-10-2012 to 17-10-2012 but as it would have it, Malalah, who was just 14 yrs old at that time, with her strong willpower and with the blessings of her well-wishers came out of coma.
In how many girls such desire and passion to get their rights could be present? Seeing her one could say that it is not one’s age that drive us towards our goal but it is our staying power of determination and indomitable courage that really fire our emotions.
Amir Ahmad Khan, chief of the BBC Urdu, while giving interview to the Time Magazine got so emotional seeing the pathetic medical condition of Malalah ,said that hadn’t he discovered her she would have been saved.
The news of such virulent and inglorious attack on just a 14 year old girl spread like a wild fire and it caught the attention of the whole global community who immensely criticized it by labeling such a dastard attack by the Taliban shameful and disgusting. Pakistan’s president Asif Ali Zardaari too went to see him at London and he also put his signature on the appeal duly signed by lacks of people meant for the education of those helpless children who can’t even get a two squares meal leave alone going to school.
Gordon Brown, the ambassador for ‘ Global Education Programme’ of United Nations , out of sympathy for Malalah, registered an application on behalf of her for global education for children on 15-10-2012 .
‘Get well soon’ notes started pouring in through the different corners of the world and she got discharged on 20-03-2013. She was extremely ebullient at the time of her discharge and was hopefully optimistic to join her school very soon.
Desmond Tutu, a great leader of South Africa and also a Noble Prize winner nominated Malalah’s name for the ‘International Children Peace Prize’ on October 2011 in the list of 90 nominees.
Pakistan bestowed on her the ‘National Youth Peace Prize’, on 19 December 2011, and surprisingly she was also its first recipient. She got Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice. Keeping her great struggle for peace and humanity in view she was awarded ‘Rome Prize’.
Sakhorav Prize, Simone de Beauvoir Prize, Honorary Canadian Citizenship, Sitaara–e-Shuzaat Award, Clinton Global Citizen Award, Skoll Global Treasure Award are all the awards which she received for her humanitarian and social crusade.
And breaking her previous record of awards, she recently was bestowed with highly covetous ‘Nobel Peace Prize’ for her human rights advocacy for education and women
Malalah Yusafzai started a mission to light that corner of the world where the doors to the schools had been closed forever, schools had been entirely demolished. She struggled hard for education, came out in an open sky, demonstrated her spirit of courage and confidence in front of the hard-line elements of Pakistan and ultimately like proverbial phoenix rose from her own ash and infused new life and hope into the waning courage of all those girls who aren’t lucky enough to go to school and experience the freedom of thought and expression.