Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of the day when then-15-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot by a Taliban gunman in Pakistan. After being sent to recuperate in a Birmingham hospital, Yousafzai's used the attention her injury received and the safety of her new home in England to become an activist for the equal right to education around the world. After speaking at the UN on her 16th birthday as part of her campaign, she's now the youngest nominee for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Her new book, I Am Malala, was released yesterday. The book doesn't speak so much about her life after the injury as it does about her life in Pakistan (a country she misses dearly) under the Taliban rule. In simple, clear writing, I Am Malala gives a rare and moving first-person glance into what it's like to be a teenager in a country seized by extremists who stand against the basic freedoms you believe in.
I read all of I Am Malala in one day. While I've been pretty busy casually bawling my eyes out as a result, I did manage to write up some major takeaways from her new book:
1. In some ways, Yousafzai was a normal teenager:
2. But at the same time, the Taliban was attempting to make women invisible.
3.The differences in Pakistani and American cultures are vast, but we can't fall into the trap of judging them against each other.
Any successful attempt to mediate in Pakistan or the Middle East needs to be done from a perspective that recognizes the traditions of a society and accepts them as a legitimate part of their history. Instead, we in the West tend to interpret other region's problems and suggest solutions based on our society's norms. Yousafzai illustrates the system in place in her hometown:
4. After her injury, Malala realized the power of her position right away.
5. Stick to what you say, and never back down from your message.