Malala is runner up as Time declares Obama Person of the Year ; Says Young Pakistani shows the way for girls’ right to education

UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet ...

UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet at the “Stand up for Malala: Girls’ education is a right” event at UNESCO Headquarters (Photo credit: UN Women Gallery)

By Ali Imran 

WASHINGTON, Dec 19 : “Even as she quietly recovers, her story has lit a fire,” says Time magazine while declaring 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai as runner up on its list of influental figures of the year 2012 that declared U.S. President Barack Obama as Person of the Year.

The magazine says Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where Malala is getting treatment for the bullet injuries from the Taliban attack in October, has been flooded with gifts and cards from all over the world and donations now totaling $13,700.

Meanwhile, a group of graduate students in the U.S. has teamed up with a Yousafzai family friend to raise almost $50,000, the magazine reveals.

In the days immediately following the shooting, several charities and NGOs received boosts in donations directed toward girls’ education in Pakistan.

And on Dec. 10, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari announced the establishment of a $10 million education fund in Malala’s name.

“Malala also now has numerous powerful supporters, including a group of well-connected people like Megan Smith, a vice president at Google, and Mark Kelly, an astronaut and the husband of former Congresswoman and shooting survivor Gabby Giffords, who have helped established the Malala Fund, which will offer grants to organizations and individuals working in education. The plan is for Malala, when she’s better, to sit on the board along with her father and make decisions about who should receive the grants.”

The magazine also notes that Malala’s father has an important new job: on Dec. 9, Gordon Brown announced that Ziauddin would be his special adviser on global education.

The attack on Malala in October led to a global outcry, with Pakistani civil society and political leaders vowing to stand by her agains the Taliban’s parochial ideology.

On 10 December, UNESCO and Pakistan launched the Malala Fund for Girls’ Education at a high-level event held as part of the celebrations for Human Rights Day. At the event – Stand Up for Malala, Girls’ Education is a Right – the President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari announced that his country would donate the first $10 million.

Opened by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and President Zardari, the occasion was dedicated to 15-year-old Pakistani school girl Malala Yousafzai,  who was the target of an assassination attempt by the Taliban last October because of her defense of the right of girls to go to school. The aim was to give new momentum to the quest to provide access to school for all girls by 2015.

In declaring Malala, a runner up,  the Time magazine paid tribute to the courageous now universally known teenaged rights activist in the following way:

“But as Malala knows perhaps better than anyone else, the forces aligned against her are intimidating and entrenched. Although she has said through her father that she is determined to return to Swat, it’s quite possible that she will be forced to remain in England, where she has security and an unfettered opportunity to study. (The Pakistani government has promised to cover the cost of her education should she stay in the U.K.) That will only allow her critics — and there are many, including people who believe the shooting was staged or even invented — to insist that she and her family have forsaken the country they claim to care so much about.

“In the face of such pressure, and after all she has been through, it would be understandable if Malala essentially retired at age 15. She may decide that she’s already done enough. Perhaps, in spite of the threats that are still directed at her, she will go back to Mingora to finish her education and raise a family, as is traditional for most girls and women in the region. There, her family’s home, a small gated compound shaded by a massive orange tree heavy with unplucked fruit, is watched over by family friends. Her tiny ninth-grade classroom on the second floor of the school is crammed with 31 students — and has one empty desk. Her best friend, Moniba, used a white correction pen to inscribe Malala in girlish cursive onto the desk’s battered wooden armrest. “This is Malala’s desk,” says Moniba, who sits at the adjacent seat. “It will stay empty until she comes back.”

“If she doesn’t, all it takes is a quick scan of the school’s crowded classrooms to understand that there are 400 Malalas prepared to take her place. Not all of them will be as bold or articulate as Malala, perhaps. But each one has returned to Khushal with the full knowledge that Malala’s attackers are still at large. These girls have overcome fear to go to school. At the very least, they will fight for the right of their daughters, and their daughters’ daughters, to do the same. Malala’s classmates were already brave. She has made them, and girls all over the world, braver still.”

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Categories: Globalization, Storyline

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