The Face of a Fight
The fact that Malala Yousafzai was chosen for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize shows just how much weight the world is starting to put on education, children’s rights, and women’s rights. It’s not far fetched to think that part of the reason for this focus on education is partly because of Malala’s fight. Her speech, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, received attention from throughout the world. However, Malala was known far before she won the prestigious award. Even before she was shot by the Taliban, which brought her even more global attention, Malala Yousafzai and her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, were known globally for their fight for girl’s education. Her speech, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize and addressing the issue of education, received attention from around the world, and Malala’s prestige while speaking and her reserve made it easy to stand with the girl for Pakistan.
In early 2009, in Malala’s home of Swat Valley in Pakistan, Taliban forces came and took the power away from the people and the Pakistani government. (Sterio) They imposed Sharia law, which is violent and treats women as objects against men. Malala and her father, despite the brutal and imminent threat of the Taliban, fought against these forces and fought for equality and peace. This came at a price on the ninth of October in 2012, when a Taliban gunmen boarded a bus that Malala was riding along with other school mates. She was asked for by name, and was then shot in the head and neck, almost killing her. But when she miraculously came out on the other side of her attack, partially paralyzed in her face, but alive and well, the world was there waiting. Today, Malala is a symbol of hope and of power that has risen from a place of oppression and fear. Her speech was not only inspiring because of what she has endured, but because of the courage that she draws from such a horrendous situation, and which she uses to fight for the rights of children, women, and people all around the world. Those people who do not have the same or equal opportunities as what we take for granted. Her Nobel speech took into account her background, which represents not only her story, but the story of millions who are denied basic human rights, especially education.
“The word Malala means grief stricken, sad.” (Nobelprize.org.) Malala Yousafzai; standing in front of not only the people in Oslo, Norway where she was conferred the Nobel Peace Prize, but in front of billions who watched her speech from their homes, from their computers, and from classrooms, and those who continue to watch her speech, does not look like the face of someone who holds grief or sadness in their heart. Malala is the face of dignity, courage, and intelligence. Malala herself looks to be a very well-educated young woman, and her person exuberates this. Her perception appeals to viewers, making her out to be an ethically engaging speaker. A main point that Malala pushes, however, is the fact that she is like any other adolescent girl, with hopes, dreams and family, and who wishes to see justice. This person is easy to relate to. She is hardly anyone special, but a normal person who found themselves suddenly known as a symbol of equality. “My brothers call me that annoying bossy sister. As far as I know, I am just a committed and even stubborn person who wants to see every child getting quality education, who want to see women having equal rights and who wants peace in every corner of the world.” (Nobelprize.org) Malala could supposedly be anyone, standing up and fighting for what they believe. In the Washington Post, Laura Bush compares Malala to the likes of Anne Frank, who was also just another young girl, but who also became a symbol in the fight against dystopian forces. (The Washington Post)
Malala asks her audience, how is it that the world can be so progressive in wars, violence, and oppression, yet fail so completely in bringing every single person in the world basic human rights such as food, sanitation services, and education? “In half of the world, we see rapid progress and development. However, there are many countries where millions still suffer from the very old problems of war, poverty, and injustice.” (Nobelprize.org) There is a definite history of leaders disregarding poverty and making war and income a higher priority than the individual needs of their citizens, in particular those citizens who live in poverty. “Why is it that countries which we call strong are so powerful in creating wars but are so weak in bringing peace?” (Nobelprize.org) Malala’s down-to-earth demeanor makes her audience sympathetic to her cause. When watching her speak about the horrors of the world, one almost doesn’t realize just how horrific the things she is talking about actually are because of the calm presence that she brings to the room. However, her words on terrorists, attacks, and bullets ring true. One look at her paralyzed face would tell you that.
In many countries around the world, women are still regarded as less than men. Malala addresses this through her father’s defiance against cultural norms; treating his daughter as an equal; a human being, and supporting her in her hopes and dreams of becoming a doctor, and then a lawyer. “Thank you to my father for not clipping my wings and for letting me fly.” (Nobelprize.org) According to Sharia law, which is enforced by the Taliban; a man can marry a girl as young as 9 years old, a man can beat his wife for insubordination, and a woman who has been raped cannot testify in court against her rapist or rapists. (Billionbibles.org) These are only a few “rules” that exist among many other demeaning and astonishingly unethical laws that are upheld by groups such as the Taliban. For some reason that I can not seem to understand, in some eyes, girls are not equal to boys. “We loved to wear neat and tidy school uniforms and we would sit there with big dreams in our eyes. We wanted to make our parents proud and prove that we could also excel in our studies and achieve those goals, which some people think only boys can do.” (Nobelprize.org) Ironically, Malala and her female school mates were forced to stop wearing their school uniforms when attending school, so as to hide the fact that they were going to school from anyone who would alert the Taliban of their defiance; defiance being them seeking an education. If caught, it was not hard to guess what would happen. On October ninth of 2012, one girl who chose to defy was punished, possibly even inevitably. “I had two options. One was to remain silent and wait to be killed. And the second was to speak up and then be killed. I chose the second one. I decided to speak up.” (Nobelprize.org) Malala’s choice was more than just brave. The Taliban are brutally violent, and rebelling against them almost certainly meant death, or worse. Pakistanis were scared of the threat that the Taliban posed, as revealed by the author of the article from The Journal of Applied Instructional Design (JAID). But courageous Malala stood up against the Taliban, who had been frightening even before their peak of power. (Robison)
Malala uses the obvious support that she has from the world as a pillar to base her speech off of right off the bat. “Thank you for the letters and cards that I still receive from all around the world.” (Nobelprize.org) The fact that Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize in the first place shows just how high her pedestal in the world is. A record 278 nominees were considered for the 2014 Nobel Prize. Among them were Tunisia’s UGTT workers union, President Monceg Marzouki, Pope Francis, and Edward Snowden. (The Express Tribune) Out of all these, Malala Yousafzai, the girl who was shot by the Taliban and who fights for the rights of those who can not be heard, was chosen. “Dear brothers, and sisters, great people, who brought change, like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Aung San Suu Kyi, once stood here on this stage.” (Nobelprize.org) I believe that Malala adds this to her piece to challenge those in power who sit in front of her to rise to the standards and the morale of the people she names. To be seen as equal to any of them would be a huge honor, and so it is a motivating point to any who are watching. She also mentions the people in power when it comes to their own children’s education, and how it is no secret that education is a necessity. “It is not time to tell the world leaders to realise how important education is – they already know it – their own children are in good schools. Now it is time to call them to take action for the rest of the world’s children.” (Nobelprize.org) If you ask me, this is a diss to those world leaders who disregard the education of the poor, or those in third-world countries. This is the reason that the Taliban does not want girls getting education; because they realize that education is power. Through their attempt to steal the girls futures away through destroying their schools and killing those who defy them, they are sending a message beyond fear. They are saying: education is the key to defiance against oppression.
After only watching once, and then after analyzing Malala’s speech, it is clear to see that her piece is effective. Although it may seem simple at first glance, what she is saying has deeper meanings and roots that go through her past, as well as through years of inequality and injustice that put many people through pain and suffering. What she is asking of the world and of its leaders is simple and just, and even, one could say, common-sense. What she is asking is something that should not have to be asked of the world to give to it’s less-fortunate. And yet those living where they can do almost nothing to help themselves have a face, and a symbol who stands for them, and who stands in front of millions of people, telling them a story that they might not want to hear. It takes effort, and many years to rebuild what is broken in places such as Swat Valley, Pakistan. Malala Yousafzai, who faced death and who still fights today, presented an effective speech to her peers, her family, and to the world. We must do more than just hope for a better future for people as brave as her.