She does not want to be known as a girl who was attacked by the Taliban. Instead, she wants to be known as a girl who has devoted her life to girls’ education. At the United Nations Youth Assembly in New York, the 16-year-old Malala appeared as a symbol of courage that every girl should emulate. Just some time ago, she lay in sick bed, fighting for life. Today, she has become a symbol of grit and determination of girls who want to break from the shackles that bind them traditionally.
Yes, despite modern times and despite all the facilities — including the societal freedoms the woman enjoys today — the woman in general has continued to portray herself as a weaker sex, seeking concessions all the time. That the society may not want to grant her all those concessions is one thing, but the average woman still wants to look for those concessions — for her weaknesses, for her being a woman; for her lower socio-cultural status and this is happening all over the world and in all societies.
Against this background, Malala appears as a brave-heart, unwilling to be consoled out of pity or mercy. On the contrary, she looks for support for her cause — of working for education of girls. That is the cause she would love to be remembered, and not as a girl who was attacked by the Taliban militants almost fatally.
This courage stands out. This courage is fascinating. I am sure countless girls around the world must be fascinated by Malala’s courage and her ability to say some wonderful words such as “I am not against anyone, neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban, or any other terrorist group…. I am here to speak about the right of education for every child…” She asserts that it is every child’s right to go to school, and right to live in peace.
Almost every word demonstrates Malala’s grit and determination to live life on her own terms, after having got a new lease of life after the Taliban attack.
How many examples like this one does one find in the society, whether in Pakistan or in India or anywhere else? In most cases, when terrorists strike and injure persons, most cower under the violence that affects them personally, and want to hide away from public glare.
However, contrary to this universal experience, Malala has stood up firmly and is talking her heart out on world forums, asserting her right to follow her own dream.
This is something every girl should be trying to do or achieve. For, what marks Malala from the crowd is her ability to rise emotionally above the fear-psychosis and stand up firmly to insist that the Taliban does not know the importance of education. Her speech does not betray rancour, nor does it show any sense of personal vendetta, something rare to be found even in men, let alone in women and girls.
Perhaps, the attack by Taliban that nearly killed her may have hardened Malala’s resolve to live a life of grit. Perhaps, Malala was groomed differently. But what she now stands for is something every girl should be emulating. She is a picture of courage that defies the commonplace logic of the timid. Perhaps, Malala’s situation has made her strong.
One must agree that Malala’s story is not just of being a strong woman; it is the story of human courage beyond gender, beyond the normal confines of the narrow definition of being a woman or girl. Hers is a story that should fascinate one and all, the story of how to look at life from a sublime point of view.