Even after the courageous Malala Yousafzai won Pakistan’s first National Award Peace Prize for pursuing education in the militant-infested Swat valley, very few Pakistanis actually knew much about her.
It was a vicious gun attack on the 14-year-old by the Taleban that made not just Pakistanis, but the entire world, take notice of her. Since then, ordinary people and government leaders all over the world have showed their unconditional solidarity with the student activist.
Malala, who is currently recovering in the UK, has become the symbol of resistance against the Taleban. UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon has declared that the young student will be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, tens of thousands of people have signed online petitions for her nomination for the Peace Prize.
Moreover, a scheme, funded by the World Bank and UK, will provide three million Pakistan families from the poorest areas cash incentives for sending their children to school. The news followed the UN celebrated “Malala Day” on Saturday. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and special UN envoy for global education, Gordon Brown made the announcement for the scheme.
If this scheme is implemented properly, it can really make a positive change for girls’ education in Pakistan. The country’s poorest provinces — especially Malala’s native Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan — female literacy rate is the lowest. Parents don’t give importance to education their female children because the latter are not expected to be primary breadwinners. Civil society organisations involved in grass-roots education complain that parents are often the biggest hurdle when it comes to girls’ education.
However, if cash incentives are given to parents for letting their daughters educate, they will be more inclined to letting them go to school rather than expect them to do household chores. Malala has paved way for an opportunity for millions of young girls in Pakistan. It’s now up to the leaders and people to make sure that they make her dream see the light of day. – Khaleejnews