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Tania is currently the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of The Hudsucker, and Senior Editor at the Nashville, Tennessee based PopCulture.com. With past writing and editing credits with Womanista, Quietly, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) and NBC Newsvine, she is currently a member of Indianapolis based, Society of Professional Journalists — one of the oldest organizations in the U.S. that promotes and represents journalists. She is an avid Indianapolis Colts, Elvis Presley and baseball fan as well as a lover of pancakes and fine cheeses, film, and music. Tania is a Hoosier at heart with a passionate wanderlust for always traveling and giving back to those in her community. She is currently studying at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Follow Tania on Twitter: @westlifebunny.

Raising Hope: Malala Yousafzai – The World’s Symbol of Promise

From a purely humanistic approach, life is not about how fast you can run or how high you can climb over the obstacles. The value as to the purpose of life may pertain to a higher purpose of confronting ultimate reality; to live one’s dreams, to matter in life, to count and to stand for something; to have made some difference in other people’s lives through personal sacrifices and ordeals; to follow or submit to destiny; to face our fears, hopes and then to accept the lessons life offers us; or to challenge oppression, and do it so with perseverance and faith with ability to bounce back. This is what Malala Yousafzai embodies and personifies.

Image Credit: Veronique de Viguerie/Getty Images

Image Credit: Veronique de Viguerie/Getty Images

It’s been said that everyone has the ability to become the hero of their own life story as it’s essential to fight for what you believe is right. This year the world met a brave young girl who has not just been a hero to many oppressed in a socially ravaged part of our world, but has become one of the most influential and talked about people. The amazing thing is, this charming young woman is only fourteen years old and already creating quite an impression with many worldwide.

Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani school girl and education activist who is known for writing a diary on the BBC under the pen name, Gul Makai about her life under Taliban rule became a beacon of hope when she survived an assassination attempt on October 9th. A Taliban gunman boarded the bus heading home from school and shot two girls but asked for Malala personally, before firing three shots at her; one hitting her head and the other, her neck. The young Malala was the main target because she campaigned and spoke up about her own rights as a young woman and objected to Taliban rule prohibiting female education. Militants who dictated that women not shop, or be seen in public or out in the market, destroyed over 150 schools in 2008 alone and devastated promising communities like hers in the Northwest region of Pakistan known as Swat Valley, where eager young women hoped to make names for themselves through education. By the following year, Taliban militia had power over much of Malala’s community and applied their misconstrued interpretation of Sharia Law.

Speaking one’s mind is a norm on this side of the world and something we westerners do so often on social networks, in the workplace or even when raising awareness, or sometimes, feeling the need to just complain. However, Malala and many like her are unable to because of Taliban rule. It would seem only right to raise the subject of girls’ education as everyone should be entitled to learn, and ultimately become an asset to their community.

An entry by Malala on the BBC blog had the young girl recalling her nightmares and fears in a way anyone would purge through to a diary; with honesty, unease and massive heart. It may not be entirely relatable for many of us reading this, but the fear factor and uncertainty is something all of us can understand on some level with our lives and sympathize with.

I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taleban. I have had such dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat. My mother made me breakfast and I went off to school. I was afraid going to school because the Taleban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools.

Only 11 students attended the class out of 27. The number decreased because of Taleban’s edict. My three friends have shifted to Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi with their families after this edict.

On my way from school to home I heard a man saying ‘I will kill you’. I hastened my pace and after a while I looked back if the man was still coming behind me. But to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone.

Malala seen days after the assassination attempt, reading in her hospital room while cuddling a stuffed animal. Image Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Brave and young Malala was left in critical condition and remained unconscious in the days following her attack, with her condition improving enough for her to be flown out from Pakistan to a hospital in Birmingham in the United Kingdom for intensive rehabilitation. It was then that a massive human wave of conscience arose and progression was set in motion as a chorus.

Former British Prime Minister and the current UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown launched the United Nations petition in Malala’s name, demanding that every child in the world be in a school by the end of 2015. The petition called “I Am Malala” sparked interest amongst many and found Brown handing it to Pakistani President Asif Zardari this past November. Many are saying now that the young girl might just receive a Nobel Peace Prize for her strength and efforts. Already, she is leading the race for TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year.

Pakistan, its clerics and other organizations have given Malala their love and respect, backing her up and matching the UN’s signature drive with a petition of their own, signed by a staggering 1.2 million Pakistanis in support of Malala’s beliefs. Malala’s fight with the Taliban is not a religious one in any way, but rather a cultural one based on the lack of knowledge from a group claiming they know what the Koran professes. Talk about education, huh? In an interview with CNN late last year, Malala said the Taliban thrive on the ignorant but she was defiant in her mission, asking, “Where in the Koran does it say that girls should not be educated?”

Earlier this month, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon announced that November 10th would be celebrated as Malala Day; a global day of action in the young heroine’s name. The day is aimed at getting 32 million displaced girls around the world into schools and getting them education as they so rightfully deserve and desire, while giving them the skills and support to progress from poverty to opportunity.

Since her attack, Malala is recovering and healing well. Her father, Ziauddin told the BBC that his daughter is humbled and inspired by the support through hundreds of messages, cards, and gifts, as well as the many taking part in movements for the abolishment of gender discrimination in Pakistan and worldwide. He went on to say that his daughter stands for human dignity, tolerance and pluralism; “She has drawn with her sacred blood a clear line between barbarity and human civilization. Her voice is the voice of the people of Pakistan and all downtrodden and deprived children of the world.”

As of now, Pakistani authorities are currently investigating the attack while Malala is taking her recuperation a day at a time, but still stands behind her thoughts on the access to education and equal rights for young girls worldwide.

Malala photographed a few months ago with her backpack, getting ready to head to school. Image Credit: Reuters

Malala Yousafzi is, and will always be a symbol of hope for many presently and in the years to come. The Taliban may have missed their mark with taking out a little girl but Malala has made her own mark with surviving and proving that evil will fall if our will is strong. When we think we can’t make a difference, this young girl defies that idea, and challenges it in the most heroic and determined way by enduring and being able to live the way she knows is best. The march for children’s and girls’ rights may be a tough one, but can definitely be changed today if we all speak up. The world is watching now, and those voices can be heard. Malala is not alone in this fight and will continue to be a symbol of defiance against extremists.

If there’s one thing I know, it’s that education is an essential human virtue and vital thread to our foundations. Without it our civilization could crumble into an abyss of oblivion. Education and knowledge is everybody’s birth right and is a vital function for our society to survive. That means there shouldn’t be gender discrimination or exclusion manifested through ignorantly interpreted laws. We may not see it for what it is because we’re accustomed to it every day, but education is the one thing that teaches us about life and our struggles; what they mean to us through the difficulties. It’s apparent that man becomes who he is through education and if we don’t allow Malala and 32 million other girls in this world to have an education, we’re not just depriving them but ourselves and our future of what opportunities and progress these girls can bring to our quality of life

To take part and help raise your voice with Malala, join the “I Am Malala” petition from The Office by the UN Special Envoy for Global Education. GirlUp, the innovative campaign from the UN Foundation, designed to unite girls to change the world has also set up a page where you can send Malala your own messages! To do so, be sure to visit their section on Malala and join the movement.

Connect with Tania Hussain on Twitter and Google+!
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  1. Raising Hope: Malala Yousafzai – The World’s Symbol of Promise | westlifebunny - April 29, 2013

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