Malala Yousafzai had led anything but a normal life even before October 2012, when a Taliban gunman climbed aboard a bus ferrying her home from class in Pakistan’s Swat Valley.
The 15-year-old Pakistani had already been lobbying for education rights for her country’s girls for four years — and had been receiving death threats for almost as long.
As a seventh-grader, she had begun keeping an online diary for the BBC about the dangers she faced as a girl pursuing education in the face of Taliban opposition. Her profile later rose after her fight for education was highlighted in a New York Times documentary and she was nominated for numerous awards.
Because Malala had become the face of education equality in Pakistan the Taliban issued a death sentence, sending a gunman in October 2012.
“Who is Malala?” he demanded, after boarding the bus. Eventually, he identified the teenager, shooting her at close range in the head in an effort to snuff out her message.
But Malala lived, as did her crusade for worldwide education equality.
I am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban tells the story of the youngest-ever Nobel Prize recipient’s childhood, family and activism, set in a region rife with ethnic strife and political upheaval. The book has been inspirational to readers around the world, compelling GW’s Women's Leadership Program to incorporate it into its Summer Reading Series Symposium.
And to further expand the reach of Malala’s memoir, GW’s Global Women’s Institute, in collaboration with the Malala Fund, developed a resource guide for high school, college and university students. Building on Malala’s memoir, the resource guide — which was launched at a November event with Malala’s father, Ziauddin — supports global efforts to mobilize people to address women’s and girls’ rights to an education.
To develop a resource guide that does justice to Malala’s story, the Global Women’s Institute convened a committee comprised of GW faculty with expertise in a wide range of disciplines including international affairs, media studies, language and literature, religion, history, women’s studies, leadership studies and education.
From education to global feminism, the views represented in these narratives reflect the individual experiences of the authors as researchers and practitioners. We hope the guide will serve as a launching pad for a broader discussion on these important issues.