Something to keep in mind when you or your kids get grouchy during the morning school rush: Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old girl who was shot by the Taliban last October because she advocated for girls education, headed back to school the other day. The hero carried a pink backpack.
Malala was only 14 when the Taliban shot her in the head -- at point blank range -- in her homeland of Pakistan. She spent months in the hospital, and her family relocated to the UK, where she’s now attending a private girl’s school. What did Malala, now a contender for a Nobel peace prize, have to say about getting back to her education?
“I think it is the happiest moment, that I am going back to school ... there is no [more] important day than this day,” she said, breaking my heart and proving what a true hero and inspiration she is. In another official statement, she said, “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.”
Now HERE is a role model! In a culture obsessed with celebrities, every kid old enough to handle it should know about Malala, a young girl who so bravely stood up against injustice. And for that matter, so should every parent. In the madness of the daily grind, it is so easy to lose sight of what a gift it is to live in a country like the United States, where things may not be perfect, but where ALL our children -- boys and girls alike -- have access to an education. It’s not a fact of life for a huge part of the world’s population, something that’s both mindboggling and really easy to lose sight of.
Thanks to the people who came before us, and fought for everything from a woman’s right to vote to the civil rights to the passage of Title IX, it’s hard for my daughter Isabella to imagine living in a country without equality. But I want her to not only realize how things used to be right here in America (my mom was just telling an astonished Isabella how Grandma wasn’t allowed to take certain classes like “shop” in high school -- and that was just in the late 1960s!), but how they are in TODAY places like Iran and Pakistan.
All of us -- kids and parents alike -- should be waking up filled with gratitude every single school morning, not grouchiness over having to pack lunches and find lost gym shoes. Of course, that’s easier said than done (where ARE those stupid shoes?!), but keeping stories like Malala’s in our minds can sure help.
Thank you, Malala, for everything you have done, and for all that you are.
Will you be sharing Malala’s story with your kids?
Image via The Guardian