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- I am Malala, a memoir written by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb, recounts Malala’s quest to exterminate ignorance and inequality by promoting education. Malala is relentless in educating children, especially girls, to struggle against persecutions that hinder their way of life, such as the repressive Pashtun society that restricts women’s rights. In the text, Malala willingly risks her life to achieve her ambitions. She gets her tenacity and heroism from her family, her role models, her own characters and her firm Pashtun values.
- Malala inherits her passion for justice from other members of her family. From her family background of activists, Malala learns that it is significant to resists inequality no matter the cost. For example, her father, Ziauddin, who is a vocal critic of the Taliban, and the principal of a school that accepts girls, refuses to “be silent”196 after countless attempts to shut him down. The Taliban has spread “terrible propaganda” against his school and shot his best friend, Zahid Khan, but Ziauddin continues to speak up against their corruption and the ban on girls to go to school. This shows that Ziauddin intensely values justice. Despite the danger of being targeted by the Taliban terrorists, he would sacrifice his life to stop them from killing “peace-builders and civilians”196, and to protect his idea of equality that all “boys and girls”33 should have access to education. Therefore, Malala’s father influences her to fight against injustice, and to make sacrifices to achieve her ultimate goals. Furthermore, Malala’s grandfather, Rohul Amin, is an activist who rails against the unfair “class system”23 in Pakistan, which has widened the power gap between “the haves and have-nots”23. Although Rohul has a reputation of being a “mesmerizing speaker”22, he uses it not for personal gain, but to protect poor people from being oppressed by the feudal system. Thus, Malala’s grandfather teaches her that advocating for equality is a noble cause, and is more important than providing for one’s self.
- Through great figures in her life outside of her family, Malala aspires to speak out for gender equality. Malala’s role models show her that females and males should have equal rights, and that feminism is worth risking her life for. In the text, Benazir Bhutto is a “woman leader”107 of Pakistan who encourages girls to be “speaking out and becoming politicians”107. Although terrorists do not agree with a female leader and attempts to assassinate her by bombing her bus, Bhutto insists on not cowering away and addresses the people one last time before her life is taken by the Taliban. Bhutto’s actions demonstrate her belief that women should not let themselves be oppressed by the patriarchal society they live in, but instead defy injustice even if they have to make sacrifice. Hence, Bhutto as Malala’s role model, drives her to prioritize supporting the equality of sexes over her own life. In addition, the Prophet Mohammed in the Quran promotes gender equality by marrying a wife, who is a “businesswoman”95 and has “been married before”95. This shows that the Prophet and the Quran both encourage women to have the same privileges as a men, to be able to work and choose their own marriage partner. Therefore as a Muslim, Malala learns to respect women’s rights.
- Malala finds the strength to struggle against injustice through her own intense natures. She is determined to fight for equality and fairness even if she puts herself in danger. For example, after Malala learns of Bhutto’s death, instead of being scared for her own safety, she urges to go and “fight for women’s rights”111 herself. With the help of the BBC, she gives interviews and writes diary entries under the pseudonym Gul Makai of how the Taliban controls people’s life and make them “afraid”130, to get support from around the world against Fazlullah’s ban on girl education. However, the terrorists are known to have “slaughtered”138 dissenters and even women, such as Shabana just for “performing in Banr Bazaar”123. Despite the risk of being Taliban’s next target, Malala is unrelenting to “get [her] education”135 and help other girls “go to school”135, instead of having to stay home and become housewives like they are told. This expresses her will to struggle for justice and risk her life in the process. Furthermore, after the Taliban’s attempt to assassinate her, Malala continues her fight for girl education. She has “faced death” at the hand of the Taliban, and is an active target even while she is in England which is far away from her homeland. Nevertheless, Malala is not afraid to “move forward”261 with her mission, she encourages leaders around the world to increase “education budgets”xxii, and uses the Malala Fund to build a school for the people of Maasai Mara. Malala’s actions to support people’s rights to be educated against the danger of the Taliban openly targeting her, proves that she is willing to sacrifice herself for the sake of education. Thus, Malala has devoted her life to uphold justice.
- As a proud Pashtun, Malala is raised to respect justice and equality more than her life. In Pashtun culture, people value honor by fighting for their belief against all odds. For example, a Pashto couplet states that it is more honorable to become “bullet-riddled”7 than to show “cowardice on the battlefield.”7 This influences Malala by teaching her to speak up against the Taliban and their ban on girl education, rather than doing “nothing”104 like most people. By resisting their edicts and secretly going to school, Malala risks being considered “haram”74 by the Taliban and gets “flogged”142, like another teenage girl who got hit “thirty-four times”142 for wearing red trousers. Therefore, Malala’s back ground as a Pashtun drives her to risk death to resist oppression and fight for her ambitions.
- In conclusion, Malala is an aspiring activist who advocates for justice and equality while also prepared to make sacrifices to accomplish her mission. Malala is taught to speak up for her belief by her role models from inside and outside of her family. Her strong personality and her Pashtun’s background drives her to persist with fighting for her cause. Through the memoir, Malala wishes to spread the true meaning of Islam which promotes education and gender equality, and she attempts to inspire people to struggle against injustice to change the world for the better.
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