A Nobel Peace Prize for Malala
There were so many unheard Malala’s before , there are so many unheard Malala’s now and there will be so many unheard Malala’s in future too, but nothing is going to change the primitive, militant mindset of the Taliban.
By Indira Satyanarayan
On November 14, Children’s Day, when the profound need to educate our children is stressed, my heart goes out to the 15 year old school girl, Malala Yousafzai, who fought for the right to education for girls in Pakistan and bravely confronted the Taliban On October 9, this courageous young girl was shot by the Taliban when she was on her way home in the school bus in Swat valley..
“Taliban” is derived from the Arab word ‘’Taleb” which means “student” and Malala was just that a… student. How could the Taliban shoot a 15 year old defenseless girl merely because she wanted to go to school and urged others to do so? This is a distorted version of Islam which even Muslims are condemning. “I totally condemn the whole incident of gunning down Malala , ‘’ says Dr.A.R.Undre, head of the department of surgery, Saifee hospital Mumbai. Dr.Undre who runs the Royal Education Society of schools in rural Maharashtra says that if you educate a boy you educate him alone , but when you educate a girl you educate a whole family.
Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) was a visionary, he was far ahead of his times. The right to vote, to inherit, education, a role in politics and civic society were ideas that the Prophet promoted for women as early as the 7th century . Many of his remarkable ideas for the empowerment of women are finding their place in society now. Early Islamic history mentions Umm Darda a scholar from Syria who taught Imams Jurists and even had the fifth Umayyad Caliph who ruled from Spain to India, as her student. Nowhere in the Quran, is it mentioned that girls should not go to school or study, therefore the interpretation of the Sharia by the Taliban is totally misconceived. The Taliban has always subjugated women. The Taliban however was not prepared for the International outrage which followed their attack on Malala. Prayers, support , medical help poured in for Malala’s recovery. The surgeons treating her in Britain were stunned by the resilience of this young girl which prompted her recovery.’ In an interview to the national television of Pakistan, Malala said that she has a new dream, ‘’ I must be a politician to save this country. ‘’ she said.
According to a leading criminal lawyer, Majeed Memon, ‘’The Status of Malala has grown Internationally to the extent that she has now been made into an icon and a symbol of the fight against human rights violation. The effect of Malala’s struggle has not gone in vain Pakistani President Asif Zardari added his signature to the petitions signed by more than a million people urging Pakistan to pay stipends to families who admit their girls in schools in honour of Malala The Pakistan government announced that poor families will now receive $2 a month per child in primary school. This program to educate the girl child will be funded by the World bank and Britain, and distributed through the government’s Benazir Income Support Programme designed to give small cash payments to needy families. Although Pakistan is signatory to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals , which include attainment of universal literacy for both boys and girls by 2015 , the country is far from achieving the target , with literacy rates of 70% for boys and only 45% for girls in 2010.
Advocate S.Venkateshwar of the Bombay High Court, however is not very optimistic of Malala’s torch for education being carried forward, given the fact that the Taliban have issued a fatwa against Malala. “There were so many unheard Malala’s before , there are so many unheard Malala’s now and there will be so many unheard Malala’s in future too, but nothing is going to change the primitive, militant mindset of the Taliban”, says Advocate Venkateshwar, adding that Pakistan’s record of human rights violations against women is the worst. ‘’Malala will be remembered, but she will not be able to bring a change in the Swat valley,” says this Advocate from Mumbai.
More than 87,000 people have signed a global petition calling for Malala to be awarded the Nobel Peace prize. Shahida Choudhary, a British campaigner involved in the petition said, ‘’ Malala doesn’t just represent one young woman, she speaks out for all those who are denied education purely on the basis of their gender”. Meanwhile in Mumbai, barring NCP legislator, Jitendra Avhad who organised a rally of 8000 Muslim girls in Mumbra -a suburb in Mumbai, to focus on Malala’s cause, no politician or women activists have mobilized support for Malala’s campaign.