Teen Shot for Promoting Education

Champion of Girls’ Rights Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

by Taylor Kilgore age, 17

    Last year, a 15-year old Pakistani girl was shot by members of the Taliban, a militant Islamic group, because she wrote a blog advocating education for girls.
    In the city of Mingora in Swat Valley of Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai was shot on the school bus going home. She suffered gunshot wounds to the head and neck. The next day she underwent surgery to remove the bullet from her neck. She was then air lifted to England for treatment. There another surgeon placed a titanium plate over the hole left in her skull.
    This incident is symbolic of the Taliban’s strong hold in Pakistan. Education of women is banned under Taliban rule. Citizens don’t dare to speak out against the group, for fear of fatal repercussions.
    Since the shooting, however, many Pakistanis have voiced anger over the attack and praised Malala’s courage. Rallies and prayer sessions have been held for her in Mingora. Even the top military officer of Pakistan showed his support by visiting Malala in the hospital.
    “In attacking Malala,” General Ashfaq Parvez said, “the terrorists have failed to grasp that she is not only an individual, but an icon of courage and hope who vindicates the great sacrifices that the people of Swat and the nation gave, for wresting the valley from the scourge of terrorism.”
    Public reaction to the shooting demonstrates the growing vocal anti-Taliban sentiments of many Pakistanis. Many in the country hope the attack is a turning point in Pakistan’s long-running battle against the Taliban.
    As a result of Malala’s heroic efforts, she was nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. She was nominated because “she encourages commitment to the right of girls to education. A commitment that seemed so threatening to the extremists that they chose to try and kill her,” said Freddy de Ruiter of Norway’s Labor party.
    If Malala were to win she would be the youngest and one of just 15 female participants – an honor well deserved.
Malala returned to school five months after the shooting. She attends Edgbaston High School for Girls in England.
    “I am excited that today I have achieved my dream of going back to school. I want all girls in the world to have this basic opportunity,” she said.
     More recently, Malala Yousafzai addressed the UN General Assembly in New York. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon declared July 12, Yousafzai's birthday, Malala Day. In her speech, she called for equality among girls and boys in education.

[Sources: Associated Press; NBC News; Los Angeles Times]

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