The One and Only Malala

Few people can equate their life to a movie without sounding pretentious and trite. But Malala Yousafzai, the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and a courageous survivor of Taliban brutality, simply and earnestly painted the contrast of her early childhood as an innocent, happy girl against the terrible incident that transformed her into a global advocate for girl’s education. In addition to her activism, The Malala Fund helps to put underprivileged girls through schooling.

Listening to Malala eloquently answering questions and effectively promoting her cause, it is hard to imagine her as a 17-year old teenager. Not sure what everyone else was doing at that age, but I was definitely not saving the world, one educated child at a time. During the chaotic days of Taliban control, many schools were threatened and forced to close, and Malala’s school was not immune. Every night, people would listen to the shelling and fighting and pray that no one would barge into their homes and take their loved ones. Malala’s tragic incident had a silver lining because it sparked a dramatic shift in public opinion in Pakistan as people started to speak out against the Taliban.

She bravely points out that the religion of Islam has been misused by extremists to promote their own agenda and that the true teachings have mutated. It is a religion of justice and love, and most importantly, tolerance. For example, in Islam, it is everyone’s responsibility to get an education, both men and women. The wife of Prophet Muhammad was an astute businesswoman, dispelling the conservative notion that women should remain uneducated and only work in the household. Malala emphasized the importance of education in combating ignorance and consequently, terrorism. It is not sustainable to physically remove terrorists, it is necessary to find the root causes and address them with
peaceful solutions.

When asked if it is difficult to live the life of a public figure, Malala playfully replies that although she acts like a thirty-year old in public, at home she is still just a kid. Her father strongly supports her work and her mother, who is currently going to school, serves as an inspiration. For many, the threat to one’s life would have been insurmountable. But for Malala, it only strengthened her resolve to carry on. Despite the fringe extremists, Malala is supported by her countrymen and she knows that she is not alone, proven by the flood of well-wishes from around the world. This gives her heart to continue with her campaign. “This role is not something that was given to me, it is something that I have chosen to do and take upon myself, and I am very happy with my choice.”

In Malala’s movie, I have faith that the villain will lose and everyone will live happily ever after.