Every now and then one comes across a book or a film which has a lasting impact upon one’s life.
This is one such book.
The story of Malala Yousafzai is very well documented, so I only really need to give a bare outline here for the remote possibility that a reader may not have heard of her. Growing up in Pakistan Malala and her teacher father became known throughout their country – and worldwide – for their attempts to ensure that all children have access to education, and in particular girls.
During most of her life, however, Malala has seen the obstruction to this fundamental right by various leaders and influencers in Pakistan – and Afghanistan as well. The Taliban actively discouraged girls from becoming educated. Their lack of success led to them openly attacking whole communities, forcing the closure of hundreds of schools and even destroying them. In this process many thousands were killed or became refugees in their own country.
In this book, Malala graphically depicts her personal struggle to be educated, her father’s unwavering support and determination, and the terrible cost they as a family endured, culminating in her being shot in the head while on her school bus by a Taliban adherent. She plainly explains all of this this against the current political and religious environment, and her determination to continue.
The latter part of the book gives an almost matter-of-fact account of her treatment, first in Pakistan, then in the UK, and her eventual recovery. Despite the attack she seems to have no malice or bitterness about what happened but rather an even greater desire – a firm resolve – to see all children, and especially girls, be fully educated, and this on a global scale. Subsequently she has spoken personally to many world leaders, addressed the United Nations, and more recently been awarded the ultimate accolade – the Nobel Peace Prize, at age 17, the youngest ever recipient.
She is still a teenager.
I think that it is incredible to realise that she was only born in 1997. She has already achieved so much in her short life. Her life, and this book, should stand as an inspiration to the current generation of young people around the globe – and it am sure it will continue to be an inspiration to generations to come.