Rating: 5 / 5
When the Taliban took over the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one man and his daughter refused to be silenced. Ziauddin Yousafzai always had the dream to educate Pakistani citizen, and was a firm believer that education is the most important way to help people rise out of poverty. He passed down his devotion and belief in educating all children to his eldest child, daughter Malala. Ever since she was little, Malala has been passionate about schooling, especially the education of women, since many people in her region did not believe in education girls, or educating girls to a grade school level and then marrying them off. An outspoken advocate, Malala nearly paid the ultimate price for her beliefs when the Taliban shot at her and her classmates on a school bus.
Malala is inspiring and gives future generations hope. In third world countries, many people automatically think of women and girls being oppressed and treated as second class citizens. While all that is generally true, Malala and her classmates and friends had to deal with so much more. In addition to education being a priority for men, towns and villages in Pakistan had to deal with natural disasters and poor government infrastructure. Malala struggled to obtain an education after earthquakes ravaged the area, and there was little to no government support in rebuilding. Although many countries provided millions of dollars in foreign aid, corruption and greed stopped most of the money from helping those who most needed it. In addition, there was also conflict between the military and the Islamic militants.
Malala’s story is touching, but truly understanding her goals and dreams is difficult without background information on her family and her country. I started I am Malala thinking it would focus mainly on that fateful day when she was shot by the Taliban and its aftermath, but was pleasantly surprised to read about so much more. The grasp the full scope of her influence and her potential, the book also delves into her story, and the story of the Swat Valley. For people such as myself, who have at most a flimsy understanding of the geopolitical and religious strife and struggles, this book gives a good background so the reader understands the setting. It isn’t intricate or granular, but it flows seamlessly within the memoir.
On a personal note, I am Malala reminds me just how much I take for granted. I am grateful for parents who, like Malala and her father, strongly believed in the power of education. I am grateful that I live in a place where women getting an education is the norm, and in many fields, such as law, the number of women students is outpacing that of men. I am also eternally grateful that I live in a society where I am free to come and go as I please and do not need a male escort every time I step out of my house.
I am Malala is a definite must-read. Malala is a heroine, and she shows the power that one voice can have to inspire change in the world.