It is a heartening news for women across the world, as Pakistani teenager Malala Yousufzai who fought against Taliban diktat for girls' education has been nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. The award will be announced by early October. Along with brave Malala, jailed Belarusian human rights activist Ales Belyatski and Russian Lyudmila Alexeyeva have also been nominated for the prestigious award.
As Malala's name figured in the list, women world over wanted the Pakistani schoolgirl-turned-icon to win the award. She is not only a symbol of resistance against Taliban rule, but a brave person who fought against all odds to help bring education to poor and deprived Muslim girls in Pakistan. Female education in Pakistan is in abysmal condition.
Poor rate of female education in Pakistan and role of Malala
According to a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) report, Pakistan finds itself in the bottom 10 of new country rankings for the education of poor females.
"Almost two-thirds of Pakistan's poor girls have never been to school," said Unesco's Education for All Global Monitoring Report (EFAGMR) director Pauline Rose in a press release. "Without a real step change by the government ... they will be denied equal opportunities in work and life forever," she added.
On the occasion of Malala Day, which was celebrated Nov 10, 2012, Rose said, "As we stand together on ‘Malala Day', it is vital to stand up for what she believes in, and highlight difficulties many poor girls and young women face in getting to school." UN announced November 10 to be celebrated as Malala Day in honour of the brave girl and the cause she espouses.
Who is Malala?
The 15-year-old education activist Malala defied the diktat of the Taliban in Pakistan's serene and picturesque town of Mingora in the Swat valley and campaigned for education rights for girls. Because of her work to promote girls' education, Taliban attempted to assassinate the teenager. Malala was shot in the head and neck by the Taliban for demanding education for women in her home country on October 9, 2012.
Taliban wanted to kill her, as Malala was promoting education and women's rights in the Swat Valley. In Swat Valley, Taliban holds control and banned girls from attending school. Malala was shot by Taliban militants while she was coming back in her school bus. Her condition was critical and remained in unconscious state after the attack. Later on she was sent to a hospital in the United Kingdom for intensive rehabilitation.
Malala's rise to fame as a blogger and messenger of peace
Malala in 2009 started writing a blog for BBC in urdu. In her blog she used to tell the world what it means to live under the terror of Taliban rule. The brave and feisty teenager used to write as how Taliban has banned television, music and girls' education from her hometown. Her honest and brave blogs caught the attention of the world and Malala rose to fame. The New York Times made a documentary on her life.
Malala has been nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize by Desmond Tutu and has won Pakistan's first National Youth Peace Prize.
Why Malala, a symbol of women empowerment and education should win the award
"A prize to Malala would not only be timely and fitting with a line of awards to champions of human rights and democracy, but also ... would set both children and education on the peace and conflict agenda," said the head of the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, Kristian Berg Harpviken.
In a recent article on Malala, Hollywood actor Angelina Jolie has written,"As girls across Pakistan stand up to say "I am Malala," they do not stand alone. Mothers and teachers around the world are telling their children and students about Malala, and encouraging them to be a part of her movement for girls' education. Across Pakistan, a national movement has emerged to rebuild the schools and recommit to educate all children, including girls. This terrible event marks the beginning of a necessary revolution in girls' education."
In order to honour Malala and her revolutionary work, "World Foundation" has launched a Woman of Impact Award for Girls' Education to provide funds to women and girls fighting for girls' education in Pakistan and Afghanistan. "We are making an emergency appeal to our Women in the World Community to join Tina Brown and Angelina Jolie in this campaign. One-hundred percent of the proceeds will go towards girls' education on the ground in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Ms. Jolie's Education Partnership for Children of Conflict will contribute the first $50,000 to this effort," said a statement of World Foundation.
A number of prominent individuals, including the Canadian Prime Minister supported a petition to nominate Malala for the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala has been released from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, UK on Jan 3. She is undergoing her rehabilitation at her family's temporary home in the West Midlands. She will have cranial reconstruction surgery in February.