Malala Yousufzai’s speech at the United Nations General Assembly on her sixteenth birthday, July 12, recounted the sentiments of many Pakistanis, particularly boys and girls, who understand the importance of education and the significance of defying the Taliban through seeking education. Malala is a symbol of education for boys and girls, and for the roughly 57 million children who are out of school across the world. She exudes the confidence and determination that all children across the world need in order to demand and seek education. Particularly, she is a beacon of hope for the many children who are from her home valley of Swat, which was once infested with the Taliban. She is a symbol of courage for standing up to the Taliban and their medieval attitude towards women’s education.
If all women across Pakistan and the world were educated equally, the world would be a more resourceful place, as would Pakistan. Currently, Pakistan’s male to female ratio is approximately 1.07, meaning that there are only slightly more men than women in the country’s population. A high percentage of these women are not educated and this results in a major disadvantage for the country and its economy as we are not cashing in on this valuable resource. It is a shame that even while being one of the few countries in the world which have had female prime ministers so early on in their history, we are still unable to educate most of our women. Instead, an innocent girl from Swat had to be shot in the head by the Taliban before we took notice of the bleak state of education for women. Nonetheless, it is comforting to recognise that the entire world has now taken notice and supports the cause of women and education.
Malala was correct when she said in her UN speech, “One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first.” There is no denying the power of a pen and paper and Malala’s words should resonate with all children and parents across the world. With many nations taking notice of Malala’s speech, it seems that awareness to place all children across the world in schools has finally set in.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2013.
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