Tonight I have a question for those of you out there with young daughters…
I’m wondering how, if at all, you’re talking with your daughters about Malala Yousafzai, the incredibly brave Pakistani 14 year old, who, several weeks ago, in response to her vocal activism on behalf of girls in her country, was shot in the head, and critically wounded by Taliban gunmen who had boarded her school bus, looking to assassinate her.
I want to talk with Clementine about Malala’s courageous work on behalf of girls who, like her, want to grow up and achieve great things, and how she knowingly risked her life to speak out against the violently repressive religious fundamentalists of the Swat Valley who oppose the education of girls, but I don’t want to do it in such a way that does harm. I don’t want, for instance, to terrify my daughter, by putting the idea into her head that we live in a world were men can charge onto a school bus, killing girls because they want to grow up, go to college, and become doctors. And I don’t want to bring it up in such a way that makes it sound as though I’m using the tragedy to serve my ever-present “you’d better be thankful” agenda, like a parent who, every night over dinner, says, “You’d better eat all of your vegetable, because children are starving to death in China.” The bottom line is, I want her to know that even little girls can stand up and make a difference. And, without being too terribly dark about it, I want her to know that some things in life are worth dying for. That’s an incredibly important lesson, though, and I want to be sure that I convey it properly.
Here, for those of you who don’t know Malala Yousafzai, is how I first became acquainted with her, in 2009, through the New York Times.
[note: If you’d like, you can the petition here to have Malala considered fro a Nobel Peace Prize.]