Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Malala-Malalai Connection

It's heartening to hear that the young Pakistani child, Malala Yousafzai, nearly killed by the Taliban for her advocacy of education for girls, is recovering and that arrests have been made in the case. Don't forget to send her a solidarity message here. The story of Malala Yousafzai wasn't new to me as I had been impressed by the New York Times video above around the time we were reading Stones into Schools. But the first book I thought of when I heard about this attack was one we read last spring, Malalai Joya's A Woman Among Warlords because of the obvious similarity between the these two activists courageous struggle for gender equality in the face of Taliban death threats. It turns out the two are linked by the a common namesake and that the younger girl holds Joya in high esteem. A reporter for the Christian Science Monitor reports,
The first time I met Malala, a couple of years ago, I asked her what her name signified. She answered: "Probably, a hero like the Afghan heroine Malalai [of Maiwand] or Malalai Joya. I want to be a social activist and an honest politician like her," she said, smiling. Ms. Joya, a 30-something activist, politician, and writer who was bitterly critical of both the Taliban and the Karzai regime, was at one point dubbed the bravest woman of Afghanistan.
Read Joya's response to the attack on Malala here. (Also, there's a documentary film version of A Woman Among Warlords in the works. You can support it here.) Finally, I've read through Malala's BBC diary excerpts which help us see this wartorn region with the moral clarity of childhood. I hope there's more writing where that came from, and that she will recover sufficiently to continue documenting and sharing her life, bringing inspiration to all of us.

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