Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani education activist, was shot in the head by Taliban hitmen and survived. Yousafzai addressed the United Nations on Friday, her 16th birthday, she called for world leaders to protect rights to equality and education. Yousafzai was targeted and marked for death by Taliban assassins for her activist views in fighting for girls’ education.
While in power in Afghanistan, the acknowledged aim of the Taliban was to create a “secure environment where the chasteness and dignity of women may once again be sacrosanct,” based on Pashtunwali beliefs about living in Purdah. Purdah practiced in a majority of muslim countries, involves: veiling of women, segregation of sexes and boundaries of moral conduct for women.
Afghan women were forced to wear a burqa, an enveloping outer garment, at all times in public. “The face of a woman is a source of corruption for men not related to them,” stated one Taliban spokesman. Women were forced to attend underground schools and faced execution if caught by authorities.
Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai survived being shot in the head by Taliban Hitmen and was motivated to continue her cause with zeal. “We call upon all governments to fight against terrorism, to protect children from brutality and harm. We call upon the United Nations to expand opportunity and education for girls all over the world,” Yousafzai said in her address to the United Nations. “We cannot all succeed when half of us are hampered,” she said.
Yousafzai made her address to the United Nations Youth Assembly and it was her first appearance after being shot in October. Yousafzai, known internationally by her first name Malala, was promoting the right of girls to be educated in her country before being targeted for assassination by the Taliban. In her speech she supported the U.N. initiative of global education.
The United Nations Global Education Fund was an initiative established by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and Gordon Brown, former prime minister of the United Kingdom. “Malala spoke out on the right of girls to seek an education, and the Taliban saw her as a target for assassination,” Brown said of Yousafzai.
Yousafzai after being shot was treated in a Pakistani hospital and shortly after was flown to the United Kingdom for further treatment. “You’ve been taken away from your own country that you love. And yet, on your 16th birthday, you’ve come here to urge us to do more,” said former U.K. Prime Minister Brown.
Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai shot in the head survived Taliban hitmen and was given a standing ovation at the United Nations, as she stated the attempt on her life had only given her strength and banished any fear she once felt.
By Thomas Barr