Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Okay, I'm gonna be predictable and jump on this bandwagon, but it is a worthy bandwagon and one that speaks to some of the core values of The Toa Nafasi Project.

There was a lot of reportage on Malala Yousafzai this past week, but I am choosing to reprint John D. Sutter's CNN Opinion piece because rather than lionizing this young heroine, I feel it "every-girls" her and gives a sense that we can all be a lil' Malala if we choose to be.

You have to love Malala.

The 17-year-old Pakistani advocate for girls' education who, on Friday, became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize told "The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart last year what she would do if she were confronted again by a member of the Taliban.

"I'll tell him how important education is and that I even want education for your children as well," she said. "I'll tell him, 'That's what I want to tell you; now do what you want.' "

This from a girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban.

For exercising her right to go to school.

Malala Yousafzai was only 14 years old at the time -- and just 11 when she started blogging anonymously for the BBC about the struggles of life in Pakistan's Swat Valley.

Stewart's response was priceless as well: "I know your father is backstage and he's very proud of you, but would he be mad if I adopted you?"

It's not just him.  The world has adopted Malala.

She reminds us of the transformative power of education, especially for the 31 million primary-school-age girls, according to UNICEF, who aren't in school worldwide.

And, as important, she is a beacon of hope -- a reminder that the human spirit holds in it immense possibility, warmth, humility and forgiveness.
Malala is the world's new symbol of hope.

Her crusade for education rights only seems to be getting stronger as the years pass.  And in the world of ISIS and Boko Haram, the Nigerian group that kidnaps young girls and attacks their schools, she's needed now more than ever.

That she shares the prize with Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian children's rights activist, makes this moment all the more significant.

"The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism," the committee said in a statement.  The Nobel Committee praised Satyarthi as carrying on Gandhi's tradition of nonviolent resistance.  And it called Malala's struggle "heroic."

It's not hard to see why.

"Dear friends, on the 9th of October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead.  They shot my friends, too," Malala said at the United Nations in July 2013.

"They thought that the bullets would silence us.  But they failed.

"And then, out of that silence came, thousands of voices.  The terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: Weakness, fear and hopelessness died.  Strength, power and courage was born."

It's telling that, according to ABC News, Malala was planning to be in school Friday [the day she won the Prize].

That's true determination.

It's the kind that hopefully will give more girls around the world the right to do the same.

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