There are certain events that happen in your life that become a “where were you when…” moment. When you read, see or hear something extraordinary that leaves an indelible mark on your very psyche. I can still recall the chills when I first watched “I have a dream” by Martin Luther King Jr or the “National Apology to the Stolen Generations” by Kevin Rudd or Barak Obama’s Inauguration speech – “Yes We Can”.
This week I encountered a moment like this when Malala Yousafzi, the Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for demanding education for girls, addressed the UN.
If you didn’t get the chance to see it I encourage you to take the time as it is compelling viewing or you can read a full transcript here.
There are so many parts that moved me”
“I speak – not for myself, but for all girls and boys. I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. Those who have fought for their rights: Their right to live in peace. Their right to be treated with dignity. Their right to equality of opportunity. Their right to be educated.“
How incredible for anyone to be this eloquent let alone a 15 year old:
“Dear sisters and brothers, we realise the importance of light when we see darkness. We realise the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way, when we were in Swat, the north of Pakistan, we realised the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns. The wise saying, “The pen is mightier than sword” was true. The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them.”
Then finally this rallying cry:
“Dear fellows, today I am focusing on women’s rights and girls’ education because they are suffering the most. There was a time when women social activists asked men to stand up for their rights. But, this time, we will do it by ourselves. I am not telling men to step away from speaking for women’s rights rather I am focusing on women to be independent to fight for themselves. Dear sisters and brothers, now it’s time to speak up.”
Such powerful words and an amazing call for all of us to stand up for women’s rights.
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