I Am Malala – Malala Yousafzai with Pa­tri­cia McCormick

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Clau­dia Eliebox

Oc­to­ber 11 is des­ig­nated by the United Na­tions as the In­ter­na­tional Day of the Girl. Emma Wat­son, UN Good­will Am­bas­sador for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goal num­ber five: Gen­der Equality, made a so­cial me­dia note of all the progress that joined forces have made for the ben­e­fits of the 1.1 bil­lion girls world­wide. The theme for IDG2016 was “Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: A Global Girl Data Move­ment.” Gen­der equality ac­tivists such as Michelle Obama dec­o­rated their so­cial me­dia plat­forms with hash tags just for us girls on Tues­day. And what bet­ter way for me to per­son­ally cel­e­brate the #Day­oftheGirl than to read the au­to­bi­og­ra­phy of Malala Yousafzai. It is the story of a young woman who spent most of her life fight­ing for the ed­u­ca­tional rights of girls.

“I Am Malala” de­scribes the short life of the world’s youngest win­ner of the No­bel Peace Prize. It be­gins with the au­thor de­scrib­ing lit­tle char­ac­ter­is­tics about her­self that show she is just as hu­man as ev­ery­one else. Her fam­ily is small and lov­ing, her broth­ers an­noy her and they all love to learn. She rem­i­nisces about in­no­cent, childish fights she had with her friends in her past and shows how through­out her life she al­ways knew that she was des­tined to help cre­ate peace. Malala tells the story of her pas­sion for ed­u­ca­tion and how she works hard to re­main the star pupil at her fa­ther’s school. Her fa­ther bravely runs schools for hardly any profit in Pak­istan be­cause of his be­lief that ev­ery child de­serves a proper ed­u­ca­tion. I sup­pose the ap­ple doesn’t fall from the tree. A no­to­ri­ous ra­dio per­son­al­ity be­gins to warn the re­gion Swat (a dis­trict in Pak­istan) of sins against Is­lam, such as women’s ed­u­ca­tion. This was the be­gin­ning of the Tal­iban in­fil­tra­tion of Pak­istan. Malala re­fuses to suc­cumb to the wrong in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the Holy Qu­ran and she con­tin­ues to go to school. How­ever, things just con­tinue to get worse. Swat ex­pe­ri­ences a Tal­iban takeover and soon war breaks out. Malala de­scribes what life is like for chil­dren liv­ing in ter­ror­ism all while she strug­gles for girls’ rights. She re­ceives nu­mer­ous threats, chal­lenges and ob­sta­cles and won­ders if she de­serves all the awards she re­ceives, while other peo­ple still suf­fer. Fi­nally the Tal­iban strikes and Malala gets shot in her head. Once you know of her, you would know that she sur­vived but the book ex­plains what she and her fam­ily suf­fered through. Her ir­reg­u­lar face, mem­ory loss, home­sick­ness, iso­la­tion, made her an­gry be­cause all she did was fight for a wor­thy cause. The book was writ­ten by a teenage girl, whose first lan­guage is not English, so it is sim­ply writ­ten. The con­tent of the story how­ever, is in­spi­ra­tional and pro­vok­ing. Of course, chil­dren who are born in ter­ror­ism or forced to be­come refugees, or whose re­li­gion does not al­low them to learn have it harder than us in the Caribbean. Gen­der equality may not be the big­gest is­sue in St. Lu­cia. But any school teacher can tell you that for a num­ber of rea­sons, there are chil­dren right here at home that are de­prived of their ed­u­ca­tion. That is what Malala and the UN are still fight­ing for.

To get a copy of “I am Malala” visit the bookYard! For information on the United Na­tions Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Global Goals, or In­ter­na­tional Day of the Girl visit the UN web­site or con­tact the Per­ma­nent Mis­sion of St. Lu­cia to United Na­tions. Fi­nally, if you want to help, start right here at home and con­tact school coun­selors to find out information about un­der­priv­i­leged stu­dent pro­grams.

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