On October 9, 2012, when Taliban gunmen strode up to the school bus transporting 15-year-old girls-education activist Malala Yousufzai between her classroom and her home in Pakistan’s Swat District, aimed their weapons at her head and fired, the attackers probably assumed that the explosions of red from Malala’s neck and head would silence the girl forever and end her struggle for a better world.
But Yousufzai has been defying expectations all her life.
From the age of 11, in early 2009, the girl had been writing a pseudonymous blog for the BBC, depicting the Taliban’s presence and influence in the Swat Valley area and advocating for the educational rights of girls. A 2010 New York Times documentary raised Malala’s profile, resulting in scores of print and television interviews and a nomination by Desmond Tutu for the International Children’s Peace Prize.
Beating long odds is destined to be the theme of Malala Yousufzai’s autobiography. Malala survived the point-blank shooting attack of October 2012, and has recuperated to the extent that she was able to leave the Brimingham, England, hospital where she is being treated on her own power on Thursday, January 3.
Yousufzai still needs to undergo cranial reconstructive surgery as part of her long-term recovery, and the right of education for girls in Pakistan is far from secured. Also, the Taliban has renewed its vow to kill Malala and her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai.
For now, however, Malala’s is one case where men voting with guns have failed against the hope-fueled defiance of a girl who dreams of, and acts toward, a better world.
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