The world’s ‘other Malalas’

Diana Moukalled

Published: Updated:

Many people find the fame and global media attention that surrounds the young Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai unpleasant. There are a variety of reasons for this opinion. While some of these reasons should be ignored, others prompt discussion.

It is our duty to use our voices to increase awareness of the women who dream of change.

Diana Moukalled

It is difficult to understand the reasons behind Taliban barbarism and the group’s threat to kill Malala. Some people are angry that Malala receives attention at a time when there are other high profile issues. Many consider the suffering of Syrian, Yemeni and Egyptian women as far greater and far more deserving of attention.

Others feel anger due to a perceived Arab-Islamic inferiority complex towards the West. However, some are disappointed by what they consider to be “sensationalized” coverage of this brave girl’s experience. The bullet fired by the Taliban gunmen hit Malala, but failed to kill her.

A modern-day icon

Currently, she is a celebrated star. Her experience is being used to highlight multiple causes, not solely for the right of female education. I mulled this over while watching the documentary “Girl rising.” The film follows the stories of nine girls from different countries and the difficulties they face to educate themselves. It highlights issues such as poverty, early marriage, slavery, sexual abuse and discrimination. Despite the dark reality of these girls’ lives, there is a lot of hope.

The plight of more than 66 million girls deprived of an education is highlighted in the documentary; two thirds of the illiterate in the world are women. The documentary deeply affected me. I feel that those that watch it will be touched by the girls’ lives. It demonstrates absolute determination to achieve an education, like that displayed by Malala.

Indeed, Malala has become an icon, as have many others who fight for their causes. They may not have achieved miracles but they have inspired the masses, instilling hope in society. If Malala had not received as much attention would she have died of her wounds? Would she have fled her home in Pakistan out of fear of retribution for surviving the attack?

The world doesn’t need more silent victims, there are plenty. It is our duty to use our voices to increase awareness of the women who dream of change. Malala and others like her spread hope and a desire that our future will shine brightly in the face of our dark present.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Oct. 21, 2013.

Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled

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