Women with Voices

On Tuesday Malala Yousafzai and two other girls were shot on their way to school in rural Pakistan As of today Malala’s condition remains critical, she has a 70% chance of surviving but she may never be the same again.

If you don’t know who Malala is you can find out about her back story here.  

Malala found global attention because her cause was and is something ‘sexy’ as it were, a young girl singlehandedly resisting fundamentalist Muslim forces in Pakistan.  She is a remarkable young woman and has done much for other women and girls in her community. At 14 years old, the forces that stood against her viewed her as threat, a threat significant enough that it had to be removed. They believe that by doing this, they strike fear into the hearts of women. They believe that by eliminating this 14 year old girl they teach us a lesson about what happens to women who forget their place. They are wrong however, all they do is remind us about how much work there is left to be done. They remind us that if a young girl will be killed for speaking her mind, we must all speak our minds so that in the future there are simply too many targets to be easily silenced. For every Malala that is killed another is awoken by the tragedy to take her place and to continue the struggle. For equality, for humanity, and for an end to violence.  Malala’s stand will never ever be forgotten, and the violence committed against her will serve as a reminder of how powerful our voices are when we use them. It will be a reminder to never be quiet and to never take the things we have for granted.

There are many  brave women who are standing up for what they believe in. They face violence of all kinds to themselves and to their families every day, and yet they persevere. In my field we call them women human rights defenders and I am lucky to have met so many passionate, brave and committed women. Often their causes are not as palatable to the mainstream media so their sacrifices go unnoticed because a white saviour narrative with a few exceptions seems to be the only worth writing about, but they are there, slowly chipping away at injustice, knowing that what they fight for is unlikely to be achieved in their life time. They are embedded in their communities and they want to make them better for generations of the future.

I am able to live the life I do today because of the sacrifices of many many women like me who have come before me. Those  who have looked at the world and seen how it could be better, those refused to stay quiet despite the overwhelming odds they have faced. I will forever be thankful to them and I will never forget. I continue fighting for a better world because it is something worth fighting for. I will never let the small and large sacrifices that women have made and continue to make be futile.

Good luck Malala I hope you make it through.

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