Malala Yousafzai – Icon of our time – Education Activist, Children’s and Women’s Rights Campaigner


It’s just one year since the Taliban shot Malala Yousafzai in the head, on her way from school. She was taken to a local hospital in a critical condition and within an hour and a half, airlifted to a military hospital, where the doctors removed part of her scull to reduce the pressure on her brain.

Fortuitously, there were two visiting doctors from the UK at the hospital and although they thought the operation successful, they feared for her aftercare. She was airlifted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where she received treatment to restore her face and received a cochlear implant.  She made an amazing recovery – even giving a speech at the United Nations.

This young woman has been criticised by some in her own country as being a puppet of the West. Others have even suggested that she wasn’t shot at all – even though the newsreel of her lying unconscious and bloodied was flashed around the world – and the Taliban admitted shooting her!

Two other girls were shot on the same bus and together with other girls in Pakistan they constantly fear reprisals from those who don’t think girls should be educated. This year there have been 60 attacks on education alone.

Meanwhile here in the UK we have pupils who are not interested in education and cause disruption in their classes, making like miserable for the teachers and those who wish to learn. Many years ago I had the privilege of teaching in an African school for girls. As an untrained teacher this was a daunting prospect, but the girls were a delight and very eager to learn. Some would walk miles in pouring rain just to attend school – only to be turned back again as there was nowhere to dry their clothes.

I think Malala is a shining example to all of us, not only in believing in the right to education, but also fighting for it – and in doing so, hoping to bring warring peoples together. Sure, she will have help in writing her speeches and is being promoted by all sorts of interested parties, but her message is still the same and we can’t argue with that. By being a figurehead she is making herself a target and therefore shows tremendous courage.

If you missed the BBC documentary on Monday, you can catch up with it here:

Malala’s speech to the United Nations:                                          

(Interesting to see some of the comments suggest the story a fake, and one guy says he knows Malala and her father personally! I wonder what they would have to say about that?)

Text of the speech:

The Malala Fund – supporting girls right to an education:


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Born in Liverpool at the end of WW2, but raised in Skelmersdale. I first studied art in Southport from 1960-63 and worked in graphic design till I married. In December 1969 I moved to Zambia with my husband and two young children. There I taught art in the local girls school, illustrated for the National Correspondence College and did all sorts of other artwork, paid and unpaid. In 1978 I divorced and remarried in the summer of 1980. In 1985 I became ill and the following year cancer was diagnosed. There was no treatment available in Zambia and so I had to go to the UK. After recovering from a radium needle implant I went back to Zambia, but 18 months later the cancer recurred and it was off to the UK again for radical surgery. This time I realised I must stay in the UK where treatment was available, so I never returned to Zambia nor my husband. A few months later I applied for a degree course, but two years later the disease metastasised and I spent most of my final year in and out of hospital. It’s been a long hard road, but I’m still plodding on and it is now 24 years since my last cancer treatment. Because of my experience of cancer and surviving against the odds, I try and help others cope with their devastating diagnosis and prognosis.

2 thoughts on “Malala Yousafzai – Icon of our time – Education Activist, Children’s and Women’s Rights Campaigner”

  1. Reblogged this on ART So Provident and commented:
    This is a wonderful piece of artwork from Willosworld. It says it all about this brave Pakistani girl who stood up against the Taliban. Not only am I a fan of Malala but also a fan of this wonderful Cancer Surviving artist. Please take a look at her blog – she has some wonderful pieces of artwork made from her hospital bed whilst undergoing chemo and other treatments.


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