October 11 is designated by the United Nations as the International Day of the Girl. Emma Watson, UN Goodwill Ambassador for Sustainable Development Goal number five: Gender Equality, made a social media note of all the progress that joined forces have made for the benefits of the 1.1 billion girls worldwide. The theme for IDG2016 was “Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: A Global Girl Data Movement.” Gender equality activists such as Michelle Obama decorated their social media platforms with hash tags just for us girls on Tuesday. And what better way for me to personally celebrate the #DayoftheGirl than to read the autobiography of Malala Yousafzai. It is the story of a young woman who spent most of her life fighting for the educational rights of girls.
“I Am Malala” describes the short life of the world’s youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. It begins with the author describing little characteristics about herself that show she is just as human as everyone else. Her family is small and loving, her brothers annoy her and they all love to learn. She reminisces about innocent, childish fights she had with her friends in her past and shows how throughout her life she always knew that she was destined to help create peace. Malala tells the story of her passion for education and how she works hard to remain the star pupil at her father’s school. Her father bravely runs schools for hardly any profit in Pakistan because of his belief that every child deserves a proper education. I suppose the apple doesn’t fall from the tree. A notorious radio personality begins to warn the region Swat (a district in Pakistan) of sins against Islam, such as women’s education. This was the beginning of the Taliban infiltration of Pakistan. Malala refuses to succumb to the wrong interpretations of the Holy Quran and she continues to go to school. However, things just continue to get worse. Swat experiences a Taliban takeover and soon war breaks out. Malala describes what life is like for children living in terrorism all while she struggles for girls’ rights. She receives numerous threats, challenges and obstacles and wonders if she deserves all the awards she receives, while other people still suffer. Finally the Taliban strikes and Malala gets shot in her head. Once you know of her, you would know that she survived but the book explains what she and her family suffered through. Her irregular face, memory loss, homesickness, isolation, made her angry because all she did was fight for a worthy cause.
The book was written by a teenage girl, whose first language is not English, so it is simply written. The content of the story however, is inspirational and provoking. Of course, children who are born in terrorism or forced to become refugees, or whose religion does not allow them to learn have it harder than us in the Caribbean. Gender equality may not be the biggest issue in St. Lucia. But any school teacher can tell you that for a number of reasons, there are children right here at home that are deprived of their education. That is what Malala and the UN are still fighting for.
To get a copy of “I am Malala” visit the bookYard! For information on the United Nations Sustainable Development Global Goals, or International Day of the Girl visit the UN website or contact the Permanent Mission of St. Lucia to United Nations. Finally, if you want to help, start right here at home and contact school counselors to find out information about underprivileged student programs.