In “I am Malala” by Mala Yousafzai, we journey through the story of Malala. Malala, a young girl born in Pakistan where educated women are rare, grows up with an understanding of how the power of raising our voices, words and education can change the world.
The book is inspirational right from the beginning with the story of Malala’s father, Ziauddin. Her father, despite his upbringing in poverty, manages to become an educated man. Through the story of Ziuaddin, we first gain a glimpses to the environment and ideas that will later influence Malala. Unlike many other Pakastani men who are upset when a daughter is born, Ziauddin is proud of having a daughter. He makes sure that she receives the same treatment as her brothers. He proceeds by refusing to allow the Woma (the celebration of a child’s life in the Pashtun culture) be paid by Baba (Malala’s grandfather) when her brothers are born. Ziauddin knows that an education that promotes independent thinking is nonexistent in Pakistan, he decides to open a school. Opening a school is not easy in Pakistan since principals are expected to bribe school officials for registration. This ignites Ziuaddin to speak out on the importance of children being educated and created an organization for principals to gather and fight the restrictions. Despite the adversities to education that are imposed, the Khusal school managed to flourish.
Malala grows up in her father’s school, develops a love for knowledge and, even though she’s a girl, is allowed to listen to politics. When she encounters children ridden in the dumps squandering for food, she realizes that not every child — especially girls– have an opportunity to be educated. Her own mother and aunts are unable to read, write, and share the same view that many Pakastani women share about school: Not seeing the point of going to school since they will end up being mothers and wives. This makes her even more appreciative to have an education, and she promotes a new way to view education as a gateway to change and opportunity.
During this time, Islam was gaining even more importance in the Pakastani society. False interpretations began to emerge, and the bearers of false interpretations of the Qu’ran were the Taliban terrorists who had moved from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Unknowingly, people began to support these terrors. This made Malala and her father realize the necessity of literacy more evident. If more people were literate, they would know about the misinterpretations of the Qu’ran the Taliban were giving. Schools began to be attacked and death threats began to spread with restrictions on how women and men should dress by the Taliban. The first to speak up was Ziauddin, encouraging more people to speak up, reminding the reader how powerful our voices can be and how they can inspire others to stand up against injustices. During those dark days, students like Malala and her friends took refugee in school; for them, school became a getaway from the darkness the Taliban brought.
Under a pen name, Malala kept an online diary in a blog about living under the Taliban rule enhancing awareness to the problems Pakistan was facing. It is here where she realizes, “that the pen and words that come from it can be much more powerful than machine guns, tanks or helicopters. We were learning how to struggle. And we were learning how powerful we are when we speak.” Ultimately, this awareness is what saved her life in the end. “I am Malala” is a book worth reading to gain a greater understanding of world affairs and is a powerful reminder of how we can make a difference.