Sadly on the 9th October, news broke around the world that 15 year old Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by a member of the Pakistani Taliban. Her crime? Bravely advocating girls’ right to an education in her country. Two of Malala’s class mates also suffered injuries in the attack. Malala has been in the UK for over a month receiving special treatment and is said to be making a smooth recovery.
For a 15 year old girl to be so fearless and so daring is truly inspiring! When I was Malala’s age, I was in my final year at Secondary School stressing about GCSEs. I had the ambition to be involved in politics, but advocating for Human Rights was the last thing on my mind. This event has made more appreciative of living in a country where education is free and available to all females.
There are currently 34 million girls around the world who do not have any access to basic education, secondary education, let alone an opportunity to go to University. And to think that I have exercised this fundamental human right for the majority of my life and not once thought about the alternative. Who has not complained about school? Many of us have. But to not be able to reminisce on my nursery or primary school memories is unthinkable!
Even in countries where there is a limited access to free basic education, more legal work, policies and awareness is needed to ensure that education can be reached by all despite your gender.
The Financial Times article explores the importance of female literacy, I have listed a few points I felt were important to share:
– “Female literacy improves health and enables women to assert their legal rights.”
– “Education also affects fertility rates. Literate women tend to marry later and have smaller families. There can be marked differences within countries.”
– “There appears to be a correlation, too, between educated women and a decrease in sex-selective abortions. Putting more girls in school is the single best remedy to the tragedy of millions of “missing” women, though the link breaks down in China where the one-child policy has distorted the picture.”
Former Prime Minster of the UK and now the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, declared the 10th November Global Action Day for Malala and the 34 million girls not in school. You can support girls like Malala by signing the “Our million-plus petition”.
Even though our state education system in England is far from perfect, I am genuinely grateful to those that sacrificed and campaigned for my human right to an education- young women like Malala Yousafzai.