Lately I have been reading many books about teenagers but the one I am presenting today even though it’s narrated by a teenager is far more than a YA book. It’s the history of people who life under oppression, who struggle every day and constantly have to fight for their rights.
I am Malala is the story of Malala Yousafzai a teenage girl from Pakistan, an activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. Malala had quite a busy life and manage to get a Nobel Peace Prize at age of 17. Now that is what I call achievement. Malala’s book has to be read by most of us, western people, because we have no idea how things really are in the Islamic world: My father told me that life was harder for women in Afghanistan. The year before I was born a group called the Taliban led by a one-eyed mullah had taken over the country and was burning girls’ schools. They were forcing men to grow beards as long as a lantern and women to wear burqas. Wearing a burqa is like walking inside big fabric shuttlecock with only a grille to see through and on hot days it’s like an oven. At least I didn’t have to wear one. He said that the Taliban had even banned women from laughing out loud or wearing white shoes as white was a color that belonged to men’. Women were being locked up and beaten just for wearing nail varnish. I shivered when he told me such things.
But the Taliban did come to the Swat Valley, where Malala was living when she was ten. They made changes, started to destroy schools, fine arts, museums, they were punishing people who were against them, women who were not wearing burqua or girls who were caught going to school. Malala wasn’t intimidated by all that. She continued her work as an activist for women and girls right to education. She didn’t cover her face, wrote a blog diary for BBC Urdu about her life after Taliban invasion and went to different press conferences around the country. She did all that not because she wasn’t afraid, but because she knew that somebody has to do it. Inspired by Martin Niemöller’s (who lived in Nazi Germany) poem she was ready to fight for her rights: First they came for the communists,/ and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist./ Then they came for the socialists,/ and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist./ Then they came for the trade unionists,/ and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist./ Then they came for the Jews,/ and I didn’t speak out because I was not a Jew./ Then they came for the Catholics,/ and I didn’t speak out because I was not a Catholic./ Then they came for me,/ and there was no one left to speak for me.
Malala’s life changes when, one day while she was getting home from school, she got shot by the Taliban, Luckily she was saved and sent to Birmingham where she could be treated properly. Malala was a public figure known by governers, president and media,but what happens to people who fight every day for their rights but don’t receive any attention from media? What happens to people who get shot and don’t have the chance to meet a doctor who will take them to a better hospital? What happens to children whose parents are not like Malala’s? We, as human beings, have to concentrate on these issues and forget any other trivial matters. Pretending to live in an evolved world, where we visit other planets and travel through space are not enough. We concentrate on the outer space, more than we do on the things that happen within our planet. It is time to change that.
“I wanted to reach all people living in poverty, those children forced to work and those who suffer from terrorism or lack of education. Deep in my heart I hoped to reach every child who could take courage from my words and stand up for his or her rights.”