I practised as a solicitor in London, mainly in all areas of family law and my studies gave me an interest in psychology, and human rights
Malala Yousafzai is the girl who was shot in the head in Pakistan when she was 15 because she insisted on attending school
I was so moved by Malala's story and seeing her on television that I just had to put something down on paper.
I thought and thought about it, and decided to write a poem in her honor. It's not a particularly good poem , but I sent it to her in hospital. I don't normally write to strangers in hospital, but it's just something I felt compelled to do.
Of course, she's now out of hospital, still living in England, and goes to school. She has now turned sixteen, and has made a name for herself round the world, attending conferences, gaining international peace prizes, and gathering support from millions of people, in her quest for universal education for girls.
All Malala did was to insist on going to school
Tell that to your children who complain about being obliged to go to school!
Malala has just published her first book - "I am Malala" - about her story, blogging about education for all, and what happened to her
We are very spoilt in the Western World
School is obligatory, and parents are breaking the law if they withhold their children, unless they can prove to the education authorities that they are capable of home-schooling their children.
It is quite otherwise in third world countries, and some other countries which would not normally be considered third world.
When I was at school in South Africa in the 1950s, before apartheid ended, White people - Europeans - had free schooling, but everyone else had to pay. So the rich and privileged got free education, and the poor had to struggle for their education. They fought tooth and nail to send their children to school and made financial sacrifices where possible. There weren't enough books or decent facilities, but still they did their best. My school used to hold charity events to raise money to give to poorer schools.
Individuals Can Help
Yes, help where poverty is involved, and also, as a separate issue, help where oppression of women is concerned
I have a good friend who worked in the same firm of solicitors as me. She had been to India, and seen how poor the people in rural villages were. She was on a very low income as a trainee solicitor, but, nonetheless she set up a regular payment of Â£100 a month to help pay for a teacher and school in an Indian village. She must have helped to change the lives of many children by her generous act. Now she is working in an international organization, and I am sure she is spreading her humane influence further.
I have another friend who was at school with me in South Africa and now lives near me in London, who set up a charity, Friends of Tembaletu. A further example of the way ordinary people with no particular skills in this area are strongly motivated and inspired to promote education for those who have been excluded.
Friends of Tembaletu
My friend was instrumental in organizing the charity, Friends of Tembaletu, joining with another charity, setting up a school near Cape Town, South Africa, to help to educate children with severe physical and intellectual disabilities - children who might otherwise have no education at all, as some of them are considered as outcasts by their family or have no family looking after them, and others who come from families too poor to send them to school and all of whom, sadly, were not provided for by the state. I have seen films of what they have been achieving to help these children, and it is heart-warming. The children, some of whom couldn't even talk when they started school, are given one-to-one teaching, and, with appropriate play equipment and attention, learn to do things their families never thought possible.
In these countries, where education is not always available, people fight to go to school and get an education
In the Northern area of Pakistan which is partially controlled by the Taliban, people are keen to go to school, but are held back, because the Taliban want to control what the boys learn, so that they have a religious education and not much else, and they believe girls should not have an education at all, because girls are considered to be mere breeding machines and virtually slaves and chattels, second class citizens who should know their place and be kept where they can't be seen.
Malala's family and probably many others in Northern Pakistan are not like that - they see education for their daughter as very important.
There was no stopping Malala, and she stuck up for herself. No doubt the Taliban thought she was obstinate and subversive. Most people would say she was focused on what she thought was right, and very courageous..
Take The Poll Below About Risking Your Life to Attend School - See how you match up to other pollsters
You have to have very strong mettle to do what Malala Yousafzai did - she was threatened with violence by the Taliban if she did not obey their order to stay indoors and give up her education. Nonetheless she did what she felt was right, and defied them. And they retaliated by trying to kill her. Fortunately they were unsuccessful, although she was shot and severely injured, along with another child sitting next to her.
Paradoxically, by shooting her, they shot themselves in the foot, because the case gained world-wide attention, and Malala, who was already known locally because of her resistance to the Taliban, became world famous, with thousands, probably millions, of well-wishers. This is how heroes are born.
Links to News Articles About Malala Yousafzai - These stretch over several months,
- Malala Yousafzai: Thousands sign Nobel Peace Prize petition - BBC News 9th November 2012
Malala Yousafzai: Thousands sign Nobel Peace Prize petition A short article about the Petition that has been set up. Only politicians rather than individuals can recommend nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize, and there is a link on the BBC website
- Thousands call for Nobel peace prize for Malala Yousafzai - The Guardian 9th November 2012
More on the subject of the Petition, with a similar link so people can sign the Petition
- Change.org · The world’s platform for change
You can start a petition on anything you believe in here, take a look. This is the website referred to in the BBC and Guardian articles mentioned above.
- Islamic hardliners announce fatwa on Malala Yousafzai - The Telegraph 20th November 2012
This is bad news - Muslim extremists in the UK are about to issue a Fatwa against Malala Yousafzai, which could be a threat to her life
- Malala Yousafzai visited by Pakistan president - BBC News 8 December 2012
"The President of Pakistan has visited a schoolgirl who is being treated in hospital in the UK after being shot in the head by a Taliban gunman."
- Zardari pledges $10million in Malala's name - The Telegraph 11 December 2012
"Pakistan's President Asif Zardari pledged $10 million for girls' education to UNESCO on Monday in the name of a Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban, saying sending girls to school was the best way to combat extremism."
- Mulala Yousafzai leaves Queen Elizabeth Hospital - BBC 4 January 2013
"She will continue rehabilitation at her family's temporary West Midlands home. The Taliban said it shot Malala, a campaigner for girls' education, for "promoting secularism". "
- Malala Yousafzai speech in full - BBC News
Malala addressed the United Nations in July 2013. This is her speech
- Malala Yousafzai backs campaign against FGM - Guardian
"Pakistani schoolgirl shot by Taliban praises campaign calling for better education on female genital mutilation in UK schools"
- Malala Yousafzai's book banned in Pakistani private schools | World news | theguardian.com
"Pakistani education officials say they have banned teenage activist Malala Yousafzai's book from private schools across the country, claiming it does not show enough respect for Islam and calling her a tool of the west"
News items about Malala
News on January 28th 2013
Doctors have just announced that Malala born on July 12, 1997, will be having reconstructive surgery to her head in the next ten days. A titanium plate will be inserted to cover the hole in her skull and later there will be a second operation to restore her hearing. The doctors say that the prognosis is good, and that she is expected to make a good recovery
News on 3rd February 2013
Malala has had the titanium plate inserted and has had a cochlea implant to help her hearing. Doctor's say she is doing well after a five hour operation.
News in March 2013
Malala has started school in England, and says she is enjoying it. She has also just signed what is reputed to be a £2 million book deal to write her book:
I am Malala
The book was published in October 2013
Malala is the youngest person ever to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, in 2013
24th February 2014
Malala has joined the campaign to persuade the world that female genital mutilation should be banned and that there should be lessons in British schools to raise awareness of the extent of the problem.
2014 Malala becomes the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize, and goes from strength to strength. Wonderful young woman, and still only seventeen years old
More About Women's Rights in Predominantly Muslim Countries - C'mon You Muslim Guys - how can it be morally right to treat other human beings in this way?
Muslims profess to have a very moral religion which protects family values. Who am I to argue with that tenet?
But this is no way to behave:
- Why are sex attacks on the rise in Tahrir Square? BBC News 15 February 2013
Is there a more sinister reason for the molestation of women who join protests in Tahir Square, Cairo? Many believe that the intimidation of women is an organized attempt to deny them equal rights
- Women's rights | Amnesty International
6 February 2013 Egypt: Impunity fuels sexual violence
- Article in The Daily Star February 2013
Despite setbacks, women's rights activists press forward
Guestbook Comments - What are Your Thoughts and Concerns About This Subject?
Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on August 27, 2013:
@chi kung: She's amazing for one so young, isn't she?
Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on August 27, 2013:
@MissRubyStars: Yes, she is truly inspiring
MissRubyStars on August 25, 2013:
The poem was beautiful and she will always be remembered and honored for her courage. Truly an inspiration!
chi kung on March 28, 2013:
she will do a lot to make changes happen - just that kind of person!
sittonbull on January 30, 2013:
Let's all hope and pray for Malala's full recovery. I thought the poem was a very moving tribute!
Michey LM on January 30, 2013:
This is a good cause which raise awareness. I wish full recovery for this little girl, I hope it is possible...
Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on January 30, 2013:
I enjoyed your poem and so thankful that Malala's prognosis is good.
Amy Trumpeter from Oxford on January 30, 2013:
Excellent lens, thanks for raising awareness. I also love reading Khaled Hosseini books.
Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on January 23, 2013:
@anonymous: Thanks so much for the blessing, and here's hoping Malala continues to recover
anonymous on January 22, 2013:
Was thinking of this and came to the thought that there is a time when conviction out-ways fear. FB liked, I hope many see this.
anonymous on January 22, 2013:
I just discovered this amazing article on skiesgreen's 2013 blessing page and am so glad I did. We've all been at the edge of our seats waiting for news of Mulala and it was good to see her leaving the hospital but I could sure tell that there is a lot of recovery still needed and no hint of a smile though she was bravely waving, it must have taken all her energy. Your poem had me awash in tears and will be life to her....Malala's name most certainly will be remembered where ever she may go.....right into out hearts...blessed.
norma-holt on January 06, 2013:
You have raised the spiritual power within me with this great tribute to a brave little girl. Well done and featured on Blessed by Skiesgreen 2013. Hugs
Jennifer P Tanabe from Red Hook, NY on January 04, 2013:
Great story and well told. Angel blessed
blessedmomto7 on November 23, 2012:
Wow. What a story. Congrats on your purple star!
Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on November 22, 2012:
@anonymous: Thank you. Not one of my better efforts, but written quickly and in the heat of the moment
anonymous on November 20, 2012:
It never fails to amaze me when things we take for granted are denied others. Your poem is very nice and I am sure Malala will love it!
Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on November 20, 2012:
@KimGiancaterino: I think she will, because I did actually send it to her on a card, addressed to the Pakistani Embassy in UK, as requested by the hospital
KimGiancaterino on November 20, 2012:
Congratulations on your well-deserved purple star. I've been following this story in the news and still fear for Malala Yousafzai's safety. Your poem is very nice and I hope she sees it.
oztoo lm on November 20, 2012:
Such an incredibly brave young girl. We do forget just how fortunate we are, don't we? Education, freedom of speech, I really find it hard to imagine what it must be like living in a world of oppression. Thanks for writing about Malala and her bravery.
Bill Armstrong from Valencia, California on November 20, 2012:
Stop education for girls, how stupid are these people, I am definitely with Malala Yousafzai all the way. The Taliban needs to take a reality check and I prey that they come to their senses and actually educate themselves.
Rhonda Albom from New Zealand on November 20, 2012:
Excellent Diana. Really well written and I love your poem. You make some very powerful points and yes Malala is a hero. Blessed.
Renaissance Woman from Colorado on November 10, 2012:
Malala's spirit is one that makes me hopeful. May she continue to lead the way as few dare to do. Thank you for honoring her with this beautiful feature. It has reminded me of why I chose teaching in the first place. What will be my part in ensuring girls around the world have the opportunity to pursue an education? For it is action that will make a difference, not good intentions.
Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on November 10, 2012:
@Success_At_School: Mine too!
Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on November 10, 2012:
@BarbRad: That's one of the reasons she was brought to the UK, where she is being guarded. There are not a lot of Taliban operators in England, although doubtless they have friends everywhere, looking to impose Sha'ria law to run parallel with English law
Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on November 10, 2012:
I pray for her, since those who shot her say they will try again and finish the job this time.
Success_At_School on November 09, 2012:
This young girl is my new heroine!
Diana Grant (author) from United Kingdom on October 31, 2012:
@Joan Haines: I think she will, especially if we can keep her in people's consciousness
Joan Haines on October 31, 2012:
Malala is a hero. Let's pray she heals and lives on as a voice for education for women and girls.