Malala Yousafzai: There comes a moment you have to decide: Do you keep quiet or do you stand up
"Our voices are our greatest weapon. One child, one teacher and one book can change the world", said the 18-year-old Pakistani girl Malala Yousafzai. She wears a black scarf on her head, and her face wears a smile that gives away wisdom that, only sometimes, comes with age, and Malala has only turned eighteen.
Everyone knows her life story. Even as a teenager in Pakistan, she advocated for little girls to be provided with education like a true spokesperson. The Taliban sent her life-threatening messages because of that. On an October afternoon in 2012, while she was riding the school bus, one of them entered the bus, shouting: "Who is Malala?" He shot her three times. One bullet shot her in the head. People all around Pakistan have turned to prayers for her life when they heard the news of her getting shot. She survived. She kept on fighting for equality. Even though she's still a teenager, this extraordinary visionary is the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize today. However, according to her, the Nobel Prize is something nice, but it isn't her goal.
"My dream is simple", she explained in a recent interview for the British media. "I want that every child gets quality education and the possibility to make its dreams come true. But that requires great amounts of work. Because of that, the Malala Foundation works hard every day on a sustainable development. Besides elementary education, we want every child on this planet to be provided with high school education. That is my mission and I will accomplish it. At least I will do my best."
The fight of this extraordinarily enlightened and intelligent young woman has been defined long ago - she wants to make the world a better and more reasonable place. Today, 60 million little girls can't attend schools. Malala's goal is that every child in the world has the conditions to learn and make their dreams come true. "There comes a moment when you have to decide if you're going to keep quiet or you're going to stand up", she said in one of her speeches.
She first wrote a book on her mission and her assassination attempt, which she miraculously survived without permanent consequences to her health, called "I am Malala." Last month, the world could see the premiere of the documentary screening of Malala's story.
The Davis Guggenheim's film "He Named Me Malala" opened this year's Into Film Festival in Great Britain. In the dedication during the closing credits, the author pointed out that he was "inspired by the book 'I am Malala'". Inspiration is the right word. Malala shows such fierceness and wisdom, such tranquility and eloquence, yet such self-confidence and immunity to all sorts of deceits. No matter how old you are, you simply can't avoid being deeply inspired by her appearance.
Inspired by the premiere of the "He Named Me Malala" film, a meeting was arranged between Malala and Emma Watson, the two young women with such different life stories, yet so close in their strives and battles. Emma, who seriously stood out in her activism in recent years, took the part of being a host and interviewed Malala, for whom she admitted that she is one of her biggest role models.
"It's interesting that I don't like to see myself on the big screen. I can't even stand my voice", Malala admitted in an interview with Emma Watson. "Still, when I watched the film, how Davis Guggenheim carried out the story in the direction of spreading the word of education all around the world left a strong impression on me. His dedication to the cause made me make this film. It covers the way we stood up for education in the harsh times of terrorism. I hope that this film will inspire additional people to join the campaign that's carried out through the Malala Foundation. It's not about people seeing the film. I want people to move and do something. I don't want "He Named Me Malala" to be just a film, I want it to be a movement."
In the film, the author made it perfectly clear what makes this young girl so extraordinary, yet so common at the same time. She is one of "us", and the proof that everyone can start the changes. In the film, to the question: "Have you ever felt furious about everything?" she responded negatively without a shred of hesitation. And she truly thinks that way. Some things are impossible to fake.
As she said, the filming took a lot of time. First she didn't know what to expect, but she is content because she thinks that her message was carried out properly. The film covers the two-year travels of Malala's life: the trip to Jordan, the trip to Nigeria, speech making, meetings with world leaders, but also the story about her family.
First of all, she clearly described the great role her father played in her life through her book, primarily when it comes to forming her beliefs on gender equality.
"My father is a fighter for women's rights, for equality, and he calls himself a feminist", Malala told in the interview with Emma Watson. "He is the living proof that men can and should fight for rights of women. If we want gender equality, men have to stand up for it. If men have taken some right just for themselves and if we complain about it, it won't be enough if only women stand up against it. So that can't be the fight of just one group of complaining women, on the contrary, the whole society must rise up for equality among people."
As she admitted herself, the term feminism had always been ambiguous to her. She wasn't sure if it's a positive or a negative movement, and she wasn't sure that she could call herself a feminist. The speech by Emma Watson, as Ambassador of the United Nations in New York last year affected many women, including Malala.
"Then I realized that there's nothing wrong with calling myself a feminist", Malala said to Emma, who was already moved enough by the fact that she was speaking with a girl she admired so much. "I'm a feminist, and you're truly a feminist, because feminism is just another word for equality."
On her 18th birthday, on July 12th this year, as a part of her activities in the fight for global education, Malala Yousafzai opened a school for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The school, equipped to receive about 200 girls from 14 to 18 years-old, was financed by the Malala foundation. During the opening ceremony, Malala made a speech only she could make and, for the umpteenth time, shamed the world's most powerful people. "Today, on the first day of my adulthood, in the name of children of the world, I demand that leaders invest in books, not bullets!"
July 12th is considered Malala's day, since she made a speech on her 16th birthday in the United Nations regarding the availability of education for children everywhere. It was her first speech after the assault, which she made in front of more than 500 young fighters for the right of education from all over the world.
One of the stereotypes she encountered during her fight for the right of women's education was the established opinion that women's education is a Western concoction and that her people's religion forbids them to change the educational system. In her conversation with Emma Watson, Malala also talked about religion, which she considers an important part of her being:
"I think that people should understand that the word "Islam" means "peace". The first word of the Holy Book Qur'an is "Read". Our religion comes down to reading, learning and gaining new knowledge. All that is not limited as something that only men or only women should do, not at all. In Islam, you believe that God sent you to Earth to learn and discover. And I am where I am now because of that. People interpret religion the wrong way. To me, Islam is a religion of peace which wishes kindness upon whole mankind. It comes down to brotherhood, kindness, patience for others, understanding... I don't know why people went mad, started killing each other and created terrorism. We can all live a prettier life and be good people. Why is it so hard to love other people?"