Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari visited Malala Yousafzai at the Queen hospital in Birmingham on Saturday to personally thank doctors for treating the 15-year-old girl who was shot for promoting secularism in the Swat valley. This happened on October 9, when masked gunmen asked for her by name and then fired indiscriminately — hitting Malala above the left eye while also injuring two other girls.
Malala’s unwavering commitment for promoting girls’ education in a region where the Taliban had banned it, should nominate her for Time Person of the Year 2012.
For over 80 years, the editors at Time magazine have annually featured a person, a group, and idea that “for better or for worse has done the most to influence the events of the year.” Over the decades, controversial figures like, Hitler and Stalin, have been featured front page for influencing world events in their historic epochs. Malala, though, would be far less argumentative.
At first glance, the remarkable teenage girl looks like any other Pakistani student. At her age, she should have been playing with her friends or caring for her two younger brothers. But Malala was far more interested in politics and educational activism that she would stay up all night discussing the erratic political climate in Pakistan with her father. She was only a handful of girls who still attended classes after the Taliban banned them. After numerous warnings to her father about sending Malala to school, the Taliban attempted to assassinate the girl after she came under their radar for speaking out against their restrictions.
Malala’s courage, maturity and dedication have triggered hope and inspiration in tens of thousands of women in her native Pakistan, “every girl in Swat is Malala, we will educate ourselves, we will win. They can’t defeat us,” said a classmate of Malala’s. Thousands of children around the world have signed petitions that they should be able to attend school free of intimidation. In India, rescued children of child labor have set out a march to demand an end to child labor and their rights to be in school. Malala’s determination to education has become the rallying cry for millions of girls around the world who are unable to go to school.
Her father Ziauddin Yousafzai, a poet and educational activist who influenced Malala’s ideology, said she drew a red line between civility and barbarism. She once openly denounced Taliban’s ban on women’s education by saying “how dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?” Malala was willing to give her life for the simple right to learn. It is for this reason that Malala Yousafzai should be Time person of the year 2012.