I should be doing so many other things today and yet I just had to ignore all the noise and share my recent encounters with Malala. Malala Yousafzai is a figure we have all been familiar with for some time now, but I hadn’t quite appreciated the depth of her bravery, the strength of her voice and the resonance of her messages.
Another recent purchase from Warwick Books, my twelve-year-old daughter devoured I Am Malala last week and urged me to do likewise. In this teen edition which she has adapted for her own generation, Malala tells her story with astounding honesty and humbling matter-of-factness. Having been shot in the head, taken to another country and endured goodness knows what pain and anguish, it is only when Malala is reunited with her family sixteen days later that she sheds her first tears. This is a level of bravery that is hard to comprehend in a girl of just fifteen.
Malala started speaking out for girls’ education at the age of eleven, not knowing if anyone would listen to her. She is the epitome of fortitude in the face of adversity, a characteristic that helped her become the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. During ‘An Insight, An Idea with Malala Yousafzai’ at this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Malala’s voice has lost none of its strength. Asked about the recent campaigns for equality, she explains, ‘We’re not going to ask men to change the world… We are going to change the world.’
As so many of us are wondering how to bring up the next generation in a way that avoids the pitfalls that we have encountered, Malala reminds us that we are never too early to start. ‘Change is possible and do not limit yourself, do not stop yourself just because you are young.’ It seems to me that every twelve-year-old should be reading her book and listening to her messages.