I am fortunate to live in a country where each morning my daughter is able to board a bus and attend school. She learns to read, write, do math and has the hopes and dreams of being an artist. A dream I am sure, with education, she will fulfill. However, what if that were only a dream without the means of becoming a reality. What if an education was unattainable just because she is a girl? Being able to board a bus and gain an education is not the case for many girls and young women across the world. Mulala Yousafzai was on a bus heading home from school, only to be brutally attacked and left for dead in October 2012. Why was she targeted? It was her drive and outspoken nature to educate girls in a region where women are far from being seen as an equal.
Her crusade began at age 11 when she faced the Taliban speaking out that her dream was to become a doctor. At age 14 she cheated death and became the face of equality in the Muslim world, equality for women and girls that wish for, and who die for, the opportunity to learn, to receive an education.
How easy is it for us, those fortunate enough to have opportunities to educate our children, to take this right for granted? What if I could not send my daughter to school or learn to read just because she was a girl? How far would I go or would she go to make that right a reality? For Mulala, it is more than boarding a bus, more than learning to read, it is about facing fears, fighting for rights and pursuing goals and dreams. She did not give up, even from her hospital bed, as she recovered from a gunshot wound to her head, she still spoke out for education, she stood defiant with a target on her back from the Taliban. That is a pure symbol of courage which resulted in a nomination for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011.
As we send our daughters off to school, as they ride their buses, read their books and color within the lines, think about how fortunate they are to have this luxury provided to them. Then think about the girls that cheat death on a daily basis just to learn to read in foreign lands that we may never visit in our lifetimes. Is education worth dying for? Is it worth fighting for? To Mulala, it is all of that and more.