Sunday, October 14, 2012

Malala Yousafzai Speaks for Women Everywhere

 Malala Yousafzai,, in case you are the only person on the planet who doesn't know, is the fifteen year old Pakistani girl who was  brutally gunned down last week by the Taliban for insisting on her right to go to school.

 At this moment Malala Yousafzai, lies in a Pakistani hospital with a bullet in her head.  Her condition is still grave, but in spite of the best efforts of the Taliban, she is alive and is likely, with a fighting spirit like hers, to remain so.

She walks in the footsteps of Ghandi, Dr. Martin Luther King, and a host of other spiritual giants. The world salutes her.  I wouldn't be surprised if somebody doesn't nominate her for the Nobel Peace Prize.  She is certainly as deserving as the European Union..... but I digress--back to the subject at hand..

 In spite of Malala's courage and the global outrage at this cowardly act,the Taliban has vowed to attack her again and to make sure this time that she dies. The world is equally determined not to let it happen.  I add my own prayers to those of the world. And I wonder at the irony of evil men bullying and threatening a young girl in the name of God, while that same young girl  shows the goodness that is the mark of genuine spiritual conviction as she resists.

 Malala makes me think, among other things, of my grandmother, who against all odds, acquired a university education at a time when the majority of women in the United States were lucky to graduate from high school. Family and community were against her, but she insisted and won out in the end.  When she graduated, with a BA in English Literature in 1907, she could not vote because she was a woman so she worked hard to see that the law was changed. American women got the vote in 1924 and my grandmother hellped. Women of my generation take the right to vote for granted.

 Today's American woman can not only vote, she can run for and win elected office.  Marriage is a choice not the only path available.Law school, medical school and the military are all open to girls today and women make up more than half of the students in American universities.

Today's girls stand on the shoulders of their mothers and grandmothers.  Tomorrow's women all over the world, but especially in countries where women are undervalued and discounted, will have brave girls like Malala to thank for their ability to read, write and make their own decisions about their own and their children's lives..

My grandmother was a champion of higher education for women.  She always said " when you educate a man, you educate a person, but when you educate a woman, you educate an entire family"  She was absolutely right.  Countries in which women are educated and given equality before the law with men, do better in every way than countries where women are held down and exploited by men.  This isn't about religion.  It is about basic morality and  light always overcomes darkness in the end.

  Whatever the future holds for her, the name, Malala Yousafzai,,  will live on in the hearts of men and women everywhere for generations, long after the Taliban is a forgotten  footnote in the ledger of history.


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