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What Does Malala Yousafzai Mean To You?

What Does Malala Yousafzai Mean To You?

Six months after she was shot in the head by a member of the Taliban, 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai is back in school. She is now attending Edgbaston High School in Birmingham in the U.K., after spending several months in the hospital. Describing her return to the classroom as “the happiest day” in her life, Malala says that “I am so proud to wear the uniform because it proves I am a student and that I am living my life and learning.”

It’s the next step in the teenager’s story, which was already amazing even before the assassination attempt on a vehicle transporting her from school back in October. Malala had already become known for campaigning for the right of girls in her native Pakistan to go to school and be educated.

Thousands online have called for Malala to win a Nobel Peace Prize. Her story has often been written about. A Vanity Fair article describes the concrete house with a garden she and her family have left behind in Pakistan, a book she was reading (Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist) and what was her favorite show (My Dream Boy Will Come to Marry Me) until the Taliban cut the cables.

Malala has been an inspiration to many: here’s what a student in India and others around the world have to say about what Malala means to them.

Says Rusha, a student in Bangalore, via NDTV:

“As youngsters, we tend to look up to parents, teachers, even fictional characters for inspiration. But now, we’re all looking at you. Because you stand for something that millions die for: Hope.”

Others added these messages:

“… though the meaning of your name is ‘grief-stricken’, you makes me think of a beautiful unknown and nameless flower that envelop me with a sweet fragrance from your enchanting valley, Swat.”

“We frame parables and stories relating empowerment of women and their education but we never work up a minute to actually pay heed on the matter. This is the price every genius has to pay, Malala. The world prays for your speedy recovery as we demand a reform in the mindset of people. You brought the clear picture out of the pothole, Malala.”

Students are often taught about “human rights.” Malala’s story helped to make real a sometimes abstract concept, as these words of support for her via Women in the World:

“The pen and voice are mightier than the sword,” said a woman from North Carolina.

“Each year I ask my children and wife, instead of a gift for my birthday to make a donation to the charity of my choice. How many shirts can one guy have?” wrote Solomon Turiel of Weston, Connecticut. “And of course I make out my own check as well.  What better cause than to honor Malala Yousafzai. Please do not let the world forget this girl.”

Women in the World also note that a group of students in the Dominican Republic donated the funds they had raised for a school trip to Malala’s fund. They also made stickers saying “Yo Soy Malala” (I am Malala) to distribute.

The Taliban in Pakistan have reportedly threatened Malala’s and her father’s lives. For her bravery and her message of education for all, and most certainly for girls in places where such is frowned upon by communities and by their own relatives and where too many become child brides, we need to continue support for Malala. Her life, which had seemed in danger of becoming a tragedy, has turned into one of triumph and we need to help keep her inspiring story going.

What does Malala mean to you?

 

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Photo by DFID - UK Department for International Development/Flickr

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154 comments

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10:07AM PDT on Oct 9, 2013

What does she mean to me? She means an iconic figure fighting for women's rights bravely and as a feminist myself this is really important. She means a total inspiration and I'm totally Team Malala!

3:51AM PDT on Jul 20, 2013

It's unbelievable that men fear women so much that they have to deny them rights to education and freedom, in case they wanted to choose not to live life of rape/forced marriages and misery. What assholes! Countries full of scared domeneering aggressive assholes!!!! that cannot continue! Women are not a worse species, we just have less testosterone!

4:49AM PDT on Apr 5, 2013

I respect her for standing up to the REAL war on women!

3:28PM PDT on Mar 28, 2013

Malala has become an inspiration for every young girl to stand up and fight and get the education they want. I am so happy to hear that she has recuperated enough to continue with her education. I wish you well Malala!!
Thank you for this story Kristina and hope we will keep getting up-dates on Malala.

9:24AM PDT on Mar 27, 2013

I'm really inspired by Malala!

2:30AM PDT on Mar 27, 2013

RESPECT!
Thanks for sharing!

5:55PM PDT on Mar 26, 2013

she is awesome

8:36AM PDT on Mar 26, 2013

She is a young brave girl fighting for education! My deepest respect!

5:31AM PDT on Mar 26, 2013

I have always thought the expression 'hero' is exaggerated and not for ordinary use. Here, it is totally justified.

8:03PM PDT on Mar 24, 2013

We're all rooting for Malala! Support girls, education, peace, and democracy.

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