Today is Blog Action Day, and I am joining with nearly 2,000 other blogs around the world to talk about Human Rights. Since this is a book blog, I thought it would be best to talk about human rights from the perspective of a book. At first, I was going to read Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. It's been on my shelf for a few years now after a friend recommended it. I started reading it, but soon I was drawn to another book that was just published last week.
I Am Malala is an autobiography by Malala Yousafzai, a young girl from the Swat Valley in Pakistan. The subtitle of the book sums it up well: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. By the time she was 11 years old, Malala had become an advocate for education, doing interviews with journalists to try to make a difference. She says, "In my heart was the belief that God would protect me. If I am speaking for my rights, for the rights of girls, I am not doing anything wrong. It's my duty to do so. God wants to see how we behave in such situations. There is a saying in the Quran, 'The falsehood has to go and the truth will previal.'" (p141)
Her father owned a school where both boys and girls could be educated. But he faced much opposition by the Taliban who insisted girls should be hidden away in their homes and not educated. They watched as the Taliban destroyed other schools throughout Pakistan. They feared what would happen to their own school, but did not back down. Malala and her father continued to speak up for the right of education. As her father said, "My only ambition is to educate my children and my nation as much as I am able. But when half of your leaders tell lies and the other half is negotiating with the Taliban, there is nowhere to go. One has to speak out." (p216)
Of course, as the subtitle declares, Malala was eventually shot by the Taliban for speaking out. The soldiers entered the school bus, asked which girl was Malala, and then shot her in the head. She survived and has become even stronger and more powerful than before. She continues her fight for the education of all children ~ boys and girls.
I Am Malala is a powerful book about an amazing young woman. The beginning of the book is filled with history lessons ~ about Malala's family as well as Swat and Pakistan. She provides much detail about the rulers of the country and the different rules imparted on citizens under each. I will say there is some repetition at times, and it's a bit hard to keep up with all of the details. The story picks up pace more in the second part.
I would highly recommend I Am Malala for adults and teens. Not only will it offer some historical information, but it also provides a glimpse into a very different culture from the perspective of a teenager. And it will show teens that they can have a voice and make a difference even at their young age.
Be sure to check out other blogs about Human Rights by visiting the Blog Action Day website or check out #BAD2013 or #humanrights on Twitter.