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Malala Yousafzai, the Activist and Pakistan, the Desi Phupo

We have all heard of Malala Yousafzai. The brilliant and brave Pakistani activist who was shot down in an attack by the Taliban for fighting for her right to an education. And yet what I also remember is that when she started getting recognition for her activism by making waves towards access to education for girls specifically in areas where there was none, people around me called her an agent of the West who was spreading “yahoodi propaganda” and turning young innocent minds against what our culture stood for.

I wonder why her name was surrounded by such controversy by people who had gone to school and had worked hard to send their own children to school. Was it simply just the hatred for white people and the fact that she was championed by them? Or was it an insecurity based in a patriarchal culture where women fighting for their rights and trying to exercise rights over their mobility is deeply unsettling for many? Was it envy at a young girl who raised her voice for something important, when so many of us cannot do so in fear of being shunned? To this day I have friends and family who scoff at her name and fail to recognize that she brought international spotlight on an issue that has saved many female lives, both figuratively and literally, by giving them a chance to broaden their horizons. To stretch violently against the oppressive walls around them and step out to see what the world has to offer.

And to those who still cannot see the bigger picture I have to say; sometimes it’s best to keep your thoughts to yourself and move along.

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