Malala Yousufzai the brave heart from Pakistan who stood up and took bullets from the Taliban gunman for the cause of education and was the youngest ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year is my role model.
That was an easy choice. Why was she my choice? I guess that is what this piece is all about. Malala is an icon for today’s girl, mostly for the girl from the third world where gender bias is rampant but also for the girl from everywhere else in the world because wherever else in the world she hails from, there is some amount of bias that dogs her. Malala is not only an icon for the girl from the Muslim world where that bias takes an uglier form but also for the girl from every other world where the bias is not really noticed but it is very much there. Malala’s appeal transcends borders and religion. I do not think of Malala as a national of Pakistan, a nation disliked by most nations for its tacit approval of terror but hated by us Indians as we are most affected by that terror; I think of Malala as a global citizen and as someone who has taken on all that ails in Pakistan.
I relate to Malala for another reason. I was born in the same year as her, which is what makes her special for me as my role model, role models more often than not being older than oneself. She is in fact three months younger than me.
In a short period of time and at a very young age Malala has become a youth icon. She has shown, in that moment when she faced the assassin’s wrath, to the world that there is hope in despair for the girl child wanting to break free of all chains cast on her by her society in the name of tradition and religion.
That she fought bravely for her life and recovered fully to champion the cause of education for all especially the girl child only goes further to prove her mettle as a fighter. The bullet in her head was the climax to a long fight between terror and tenacity. Malala was already famous at the age of fifteen when she was attacked. In fact she was attacked because she had become the face of the girls who were being forced out of school in the name of Taliban’s Islam. She had been blogging for BBC and the western media for a few years by then and had already received her first major award, being the first recipient of Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize in 2011, renamed later after her as National Malala Peace Prize.
What her assassin did not fathom was her courage. And how the frail Malala, whose limp body he must have left for dead after the carnage in that school bus, has taken on the Taliban brotherhood! How those fanatics wherever they are hiding must be cursing their failed assassin and working overtime on their western conspiracy theories and propaganda. They raised their ugly heads again late last year when they killed more than a hundred little children in a school in Peshawar apparently to show their resentment on the Nobel Peace Prize being conferred upon Malala. Her detractors had stooped to their lowest.
Malala Yousufzai is my role model for all that I admire her for: Her courage, her goal, her commitment, her simplicity and her non- violent resistance to oppression. She showed exemplary courage in opposing the radicals in her region, the infamous Swat Valley by peaceful opposing their agenda and letting the world know through media about their nefarious designs and modus operandi. Her goal of seeing all children particularly girls in school is a noble goal. She is committed to her goal and her speeches at the UN and while accepting the Nobel Prize are simple, straight from the heart and motivating. Gandhi showed the world a new way, unheard of till then, of resolving disputes without resorting to war and violence. Of all those luminaries who emulated him and have peacefully fought oppression and terror in some form or other; Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. and many more; my role model Malala Yousufzai stands out because of her age, gender, location and originality.