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Woman of the week: Malala Yousafzai

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Image credit: Thinking Heads

Women are forever astounding me. There’s something so universal and safe about being a woman, being surrounding by women and expanding what it means to be a woman.

You’re never truly alone because what it is to be a woman is so diverse. Whether you’re in the bathrooms at a club or replying to a tweet on social media. There is always someone who sees you. For me, I first felt the power of women through Malala Yousafzai.

I was spending the summer at my grandparent’s house in Stornoway. A far cry from Pakistan but my grandma has a gorgeous collection of books. Among her wide collection was ‘I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban’.

Now at the time, I was very into reading books such as Twilight and Jacqueline Wilson. Let us not wonder about the glaring differences between the texts, please. What I mean to say is that an autobiography was not something a young me would naturally be attracted to.

Except Malala was a name I had never heard of before: just like my own.

So I thanked my grandma and got to reading. It was the first feminist text I had ever read in my life. At such a young age my eyes were opened to the oppressive inequalities women face. To the price that is for a woman to achieve basic necessities men rarely have to fight for.

And I felt empowered by everything Malala survived.

See, I’m mixed race myself. Pakistani-Scottish, but I had never heard or seen a point of view from a Pakistani woman before. It awakened me to the stark difference in cultures, to how privileged I am even when I think I’m not.

“I don’t want to be thought of as the ‘girl who was shot by the Taliban’ but the ‘girl who fought for education’. This is the cause to which I want to devote my life.”

Malala became everything I talked about. I find it absolutely enlightening that it was my grandmother who gave that to me. It wasn’t just a story about a family pushed out of their own country, but a story of survival.

About a young woman who defied society’s oppressive nature. Malala stood up and had to fight for something we’re so naturally given. She refused to be silent, something that is incredibly celebrated today.”

And because of that, she was shot in the head at point-blank range. Only to live and spread her story of peaceful protesting and deservingly became the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize.

“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”

I feel as if this could never be history because it will always be relevant. Malala was a fourteen-year-old girl when this happened. And she was out in the world campaigning for women’s educational rights.

On that day she was shot, the Taliban shooters asked: “Who is Malala”

Now the world can answer that question with unwavering nerve. Her story meant a lot to me for many reasons. One of them being she is a brown girl and I don’t see many of them in the spotlight. Not to mention she told me the meaning of my name in her book.

The reason I chose to write about Malala Yousafzai is because she inspired me. It’s Women’s History Month and we deserve to highlight women who have made changes. Even changes in ourselves. Malala happened to make very large changes in the world, they almost killed her, but she never stopped.

And I think this is something we should learn from. To fight for equality no matter what, and to not judge. Malala is still a devout Muslim who stands against the oppressive extremism of the Taliban. And that is something the ignorant need to understand: no one is the same.

She broke societies racial stereotypes and forged the path for young women. Malala didn’t shy away from herself and her beliefs and neither should you.

Featured image credit: NBC News

Deputy Editor of Brig Newspaper. Fourth year journalism and English student at the University of Stirling. Lover of covering social issues and creator of 'The Talk' column for everyone who needs to hear it.

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