Malala Yousafzai

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997 in Mingora, Pakistan. Ever since childhood, she has been an advocate for girls’ education. She attended a school founded by her father, but after the Taliban began attacking girls’ schools in her hometown of Mingora, Pakistan, Malala gave a speech entitled “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?” This resulted in the group issuing a death threat against her, but this did not stop the dedicated young girl. Malala and her family initially believed that the Taliban would not actually harm a child, but this proved to be wrong. On October 9, 2012, a man boarded the bus in which Malala was riding home from school and fired shots at her. The shooting left Malala in critical condition and resulted in the removal of a portion of her skull to treat her swelling brain. The shooting resulted in a massive outburst of support for the activist, which continued throughout her recovery.

Despite all of the Taliban’s threats, Youdafzai remains an unyielding advocate for the power of education as well as women’s rights. In 2013, she was first nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and was also awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament. The following year, at age seventeen, Malala became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. On her eighteenth birthday, the activist continued to promote global education by opening a school for Syrian refuge girls in Lebanon. In one of the school’s’ classrooms she proclaimed, "Today on my first day as an adult, on behalf of the world's children, I demand of leaders we must invest in books instead of bullets" (Youdafzai, 2015).

This can be related to the Marinova article, which states, “somehow children become familiar with violence and the tales since the early childhood help them to accept as something normal the coercion, the harassment, the cruelty and the violence.” Malala took a stand to oppose the norms of her country and fight for girls’ right to education. The article further emphasizes that in order to change these unjust patterns, a complete rethinking process of the socialization and initial education is necessary and more attention must be paid to teaching equal values to both boys and girls.

Cultural beliefs about gender are basically data driven by people’s observations of the activities of women and men in their society. The Biosocial Construction of Sex Differences and Similarities in Behavior article attests that cultural beliefs about the attributes of the sexes generally stem from the division of labor, which in turn affects the socialization received by boys and girls. People’s correspondent inferences about men and women are the source of gender roles, and these inferences are a central principle of social role theory. With this being said, Malala taking a stand and supporting gender equality can encourage other women to step up and fight to change these gender roles. 

Malala’s gender has affected her tremendously, especially due to the significant social restraints placed upon Pakistani women. The ability of women to attain leadership positions in developing countries is significantly limited by insufficient identification mechanisms, such as inability to accurately issue birth certificates. Many initiatives have been taken to support these countries in the hope of increasing the visibility and rights of women. Malala courageously advocates the empowerment of women around the world and demonstrates that no matter what gender an individual identifies with, they deserve equal rights.