Posted tagged ‘Poem for Malala Yousafzai’

Malala Yousafzai – links to videos of U.N. speech and “Class Dismissed”

July 15, 2013

Malala Yousafzai is the young Pakistani girl who was targeted by the Taliban, pulled from her school bus in the Swat Valley in Pakistan in October 2012, and shot in the head and neck because of the advocacy of herself and her father of education for girls in Pakistan.  Here she is speaking to the U.N. yesterday last Friday, July 12.  (I believe it was n her 16th birthday.)  Her recovery if, of course, remarkable, but what is even more remarkable are her words and her delivery of them.  (It’s worth taking a look at some of the terrible comments that have been made to this remarkable video.)

We talk about a war against women in the States – and one is very conscious of this as a woman.  But it seems important to keep the context of the bigger picture in mind, which involves the subjugation of women, girls, children all over the world.  This subjugation relies on the denial of education for girls as well as opportunity  and freedom of women – every day, there are stories of  schools being blasted, teachers, social workers, students, parents, threatened and killed.   The speech is about 17 minutes long.  Even a few minutes is well worth your time.

If you do not know Malala’s story (or much about the plight of girls’ education in Pakistan), here is the link to the original New York Times documentary that initially garnered attention to her; a wonderful film by Adam B. Ellick.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9F5yeW6XFZk

Here’s finally a link to a not-very-good poem by me (well, okay poem) written about Malala right after she was shot.

Finally, we are, thankfully, in a whole different ecosystem re women and education in the United States.  But here too there are continual assaults on education, especially on education related to science, but also on education generally:  school budgets slashed, early childhood education attacked, teachers demeaned, loans for college made unaffordable, and a culture that increasingly denigrates the importance of facts, knowledge, study.   This is important stuff.  We are so lucky to have the possibility of education here – let’s take advantage of it, and try to help others also (i) have a chance for it, and (ii) see the importance of it.

In Swat Valley, Pakistan, October 2012 (For Malala Yousafzai)

October 9, 2012

In Swat Valley, Pakistan, October 2012  (For Malala Yousafzai)

She wanted to go to school.
(They shot her in the head and neck.)
She could read and write
and did.
(They pulled her off the school bus.)
Cardboard journals and online, from age 11 to 14–
(Which one is Malala? they demanded,)
pushing for the education–
(gun muzzles ready–)
of her fellow girls.
(“Let this be a lesson,” they said.)

One wants to respond with something ringing
about the power
of a schoolgirl’s voice, but this is a real
schoolgirl–her voice sweet,
slightly nasal,
accented
with sincerity–and one needs
to just weep
for a while, all the time
vowing to learn from her,
a lesson.

**************************************
I’m trying, but can’t really write a poem about something as raw, unspeakable, heartbreaking as the shooting of Malala Yousafzai, age 14, by Taliban gunmen in the Swat Valley, Pakistan earlier today.  Malala became famous in 2009 at age 11 because of her part in a short documentary film about the closing down of girls’ education in the Swat Valley in Pakistan by the Taliban (made by Adam B. Ellick.)  The link above is to a portion of the film.  This is the link to the longer version:  “Class Dismissed” Swat Valley  
Since the  film, Malala (who is a captivatingly brave and perceptive child) has became a spokesperson for girls’ education in Pakistan, even winning a national youth prize.  Taliban gunmen forced their way onto her school bus today, shooting her in the head and neck.  She has survived the shooting.  (The Taliban said earlier that if she survived, they would continue to target her.)  
Thoughts and prayers go to Malala and her family; her father, also loving, brave, articulate, was highlighted in the film.  (He ran a girls’ school in Swat before it was shut down by the Taliban, and largely destroyed by the Pakistan Army.)   I don’t quite know what one can do about these things – other than to try to stay informed and possibly give to charities that focus on similar issues?  Nicholas Kristoff of the NY Times tends to be a source of information on such charities. 
(P.S. – I find the situation in Swat and for girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan incredibly  painful, but don’t mean to suggest here that American troops are the answer.  I don’t know what the answer is – I think knowledge and outrage help–) 

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