For Malala

Today’s post is contributed by Prof. Carly Hayden Foster, who is currently teaching WMST/POLS 441: Women in Politics in America, and will teach both WMST 200: Issues in Feminism and WMST 490-02: POLS 449: Women in Lawmaking next Spring.  Here, she turns her attention toward the devastating cost of women’s activism in Pakistan, considering the enormous bravery of 14 year-old Malala Yousafzai and the unthinkable consequences of her courage.  

I was inspired, about a month ago, when I read about a brave Pakistani teenage girl named Malala.  Malala wrote about the dangers and injustice she experienced living in the Swat region of Pakistan, where the Taliban has ordered the closing of schools for girls. The BBC carries her blog posts which vividly describe her experiences, and her fears that her own school will be closed, burned, or bombed, as happened in nearby communities.

And now I am heartbroken by the news that this brave girl has been shot by the Taliban.

Lest we get discouraged by the mundane, mid-semester feeling of too much work left and not enough time, let us instead take a moment to reflect on Malala’s bravery.  As a teenage girl in an intensively repressive and misogynist environment, she spoke out against what she knew in her heart was injustice.  She fought for her right, as a girl, to be allowed to go to school. She did this knowing that the men with guns knew who she was and where she lived.  Malala understood the importance of school, and she put herself at risk so that she and other girls like her might get an education.  As I write this, Malala is still alive, but unconscious, and on a ventilator.  She is not likely to fully recover from the damage to her brain caused by the bullet.  Let’s send Malala and her family, and all the girls who have to fight for access to education just because they are girls, our thoughts, wishes, prayers, and whatever else we might have to offer. Here are some links to organizations that help further the cause of providing education to girls.

Room to Read

Shining Hope for Communities

Afghan Institute of Learning

Also, the Half the Sky Movement has links to additional gender focused global charitable organizations.

Perhaps the SIUE community could make some contributions in Malala’s name.



Filed under Global Feminisms

3 responses to “For Malala

  1. Thank you Carly for bringing Malala Yousafzai’s case to our attention. I support doing whatever we can to help her and her family and the women and girls of the Swat Valley as they challenge extremism and violence of the Taliban. It should be emphasized that the Taliban do not represent the majority of Muslims in Pakistan, Afghanistan and any where else where Muslims live. Islam has a legacy of encouraging women and girls to study and to learn and it is more often than not patriarchal norms rather than the relgion that places obstacles before women. We should also not forget our country’s complicity in the rise of the Taliban in this area. One factor that has buttressed the popularity of the Taliban in this part of Pakistan is the American use of drones. The Obama administration, in particular, has taken to the use of drones like no administration before it. The president has a “kill list” and approves the assassination of suspected terrorists essentially acting as judge and jury in addition to executioner. According to administration policy any men of military age who happen to be killed in a drone attack are automatically considered legitimate targets. Many innocent women, children, and men have also been killed in these attacks. A feminist anti-war movement Code Pink has made a campaign against drones a center of their work. See this Code Pink press release in the wake of Malala’s shooting; on the drone phenomenon in general see the website of Drone Watch:; for Obama’s kill list and the current administration’s policy on the use of drones, see this New York Times expose:

  2. Saba

    I think your comment, Steve, is really relevant to our outrage at Malala’s shooting. We are saddened and outraged at what the Taliban braggingly did, as we should be. But it is important to keep in mind that our outrage comes easier at the oppression of women/girls’ rights by the Taliban in Pakistan’s northern regions, than our reflection (and absence of outrage) on our complicity in their deaths by drones.

  3. Candis

    I was unaware of this issue unitl I read this post. Wow- What bravery and courage a young girl is willing to go through for education and her rights. I am feeling more thankful for the opportunity to get an education and be in a place we have a voice. Thank you for sharing!

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