WASHINGTON- (WUSA9) Last week I was blessed with two opportunities to see Malala Yousafazi and her father speak on their education campaign on the International Day of the Girl (October 11, 2013.) The first time was at the World Bank where Malala had a sit down conversation and q & a with the president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim. The second time was later that night hosted by Politics and Prose, at Sidwell Friends School the school President Obama's daughters attend.
Both talks were very similar. Although Malala is known to be the girl who was shot by the Taliban in the face for going to school, survived, and continues an international campaign promoting girls education, the spirit of both talks were light hearted, filled with jokes and laughter. President Kim even opened up the talk by saying to Malala, "I know Jon Stewart offered to adopt you, but I think you'd be a lot happier at my house..." referring to the recent interview Malala had with Jon Stewart, in which he offered to adopt her after she explained how she would respond to a Talib who would approach her to kill her.
It was very clear Malala and her father have an extremely close relationship. When Malala was asked, by President Kim, what advice she has for other fathers, she replied "do not clip the wings of your daughter. Let them fly!" At the Politics and Prose event later that night, Malala's father firmly stated that when going through the difficulties in supporting girls education, he said, "I will not clip the wings of my daughter. I will not prevent her from flying.
Malala said she has already seen death, and she knows death is supporting her in her cause for education. She believes there was a reason she did not die and it is her responsibility to all girls and children that she continues her fight for education.
"It was my responsibility to speak up for girls, it is still my responsibility to speak up for every child," Malala said at the World Bank in front of hundreds of people. The crowd included a variety of people from young ambitious girls to Finance Ministers and the former president of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn.
Malala may only be 16-years-old, but she has already began campaigning for a political position in Pakistan in the future saying to the World Bank crowd, "I haven't chosen a party yet, but vote for me." When President Kim asked her why she had changed her dream career from a doctor to a politician, she explained, "Because a doctor can only help someone who has been shot. If I become a politician, I can help make a tomorrow where there are no more cases of people being shot."
It was clear by the audience's applause she already had a whole lot of support.
When asked about her views on the Taliban, Malala spoke on how if the Taliban were true Muslims they would remember the saying of the Prophet Muhammad, who said it is the duty of ALL people to seek knowledge. Malala continued by saying the Taliban need to go to school and learn about Islam, a religion about "peace and brotherhood." At both events Malala mentioned she does not hate the Taliban and is fighting for education for their children too.
As admirable as Malala is, there is still a lot of controversy around her educational campaign. Social media and online articles have called her a wide array of names claiming she is a "western puppet" or simply against her campaign for education in general. Regardless of the rumors and accusations against young Malala, the fact remains she was shot, survived, and has used this near-death experience to change the lives and inspire millions of girls, boys, youth, adults. The Yousafazi's were passionate when speaking against war and using education as the solution to many international tragedies including child trafficking, poverty, hunger and more.
Her fathers closing remarks at the Politics and Prose event included, "send books, not tanks. Send teachers, not soldiers." They continue to spread this message around the globe and actively work for this cause.
Until Next Time,