Writing Prompt #9: I Am Malala Book Talk

1. If you could describe this book in one word what would that be?

If I could describe this book in one word it would be “inspiring”. “I Am Malala” was inspiring to me on account of not only its vivid drama but for its urgent message about the untapped power of girls.

2. What does this book reveal about Islam, women, girls and education?

Islam is a dominant theme in “I am Malala”. Even though I was partially exposed to the Islamic religion through my experiences studying in an international boarding school, I was still unaware of its deep foundation on account of the interpretation through the media. Nevertheless, through Malala’s story, we can learn about the way in which Islam is expressed, lived, understood, and manipulated. Characterized as a religion of peace, ecumenism, and gender egalitarianism or as a faith influenced by intolerance, extremism, and misogyny, Islam is arguably the most misinterpreted religion of the 21st century.

Many of the problematics of establishing Islam’s views on gender originate from the foundation teachings in the Qur’an, including the rights and obligations of women and girls. The Taliban proudly celebrates their own interpretation of Islam, as it arrogantly rejects all others. We are encountered with this problem as Malala struggles with her devotion as a follower of faith to the Islam religion as it clashes with the Taliban. The group is furious that Malala, a woman would dare to interpret the Quran in the first place as Malala attempts to publicly argue that Allah wants women to study the faith by receiving an education. As a result, the Taliban attempt to murder Malala. Despite this, Malala remains peaceful as she accounts that her only weapon is her faith in the Muslim religion.

It is very important to understand the role that Islam plays in the lives of the people described in “I am Malala”. Especially, on account of the recent debates about Islam taking place in the political sphere. Conclusively, Malala uses her book to authenticate herself as someone who believes in the Islamic faith and believes in universal education and equal rights for women. This combination, in the political rhetoric of both the United States and Pakistan, sometimes seems non-existent. Malala’s courage and strength is a stellar example to young girls around the world to stand up and share their voice.

3. What elements of chance are crucial to her story?

There are many critical elements of chance to Malala’s story that have left an impact on our society. Most specifically, the assassination attempt on Malala’s own life. The Taliban goal was to eliminate Malala as a threat, but instead, they gave Malala a more significant platform and voice to continue to fight for girls around the world.

4. Unesco estimates over 160 million girls worldwide are not educated due to refugee status, war relocation, poverty and gender preference. What would the world look like if all girls were educated? What do you think would change?

Growing up in poverty struct nation like Venezuela, I was instantly exposed to the substantial economic crisis that tolls on education. It is a constant reminder of how blessed I am to have been able to receive an education, especially at such a renowned university like Parsons. I believe that the solution to end global poverty is to educate girls. If we can provide girls with the education they need, the community will instantly change. The results include a decrease in infant mortality rates and HIV/AIDS infection rates and an increase in income growth and economic growth. Child marriages will become less frequent, as will child labor. Education should be considered to be a fundamental human right, not a luxury. It is a significant factor in the development of children, communities, and a country. Studies show that over 75 million primary aged children are not able to receive an education, over 55% are girls. I believe that whether an emerging nation likes it or not, its girls are its most significant resources. Educating them may be the single highest-return investment available in the developing world. The economic and personal empowerment that education provides will not only help girls and women make healthier choices but also their families.

5. What is your favorite quote from the book?

“I am Malala. My world has changed, but I have not”.

Malala ends her story almost the same way that she started it, by responding to the problem that came to determine her life when the Taliban asked for her in the back of the bus. Despite the assassination attempt on her life, Malala remains apparent on her identity and knowledge that even though her life will never be the same, she still sustains her values, principals, and goals that she has maintained throughout her entire life.

6. What impact do you think this book has had globally?

“I am Malala” left an incredible impression around the world. I think the most important message to take from Malala’s story is never to doubt your ability to impact the world. There are over seven billion in the world, but Malala proves that if you work hard enough, you can accomplish anything. At the age of 21 years old, Malala is one of the world’s most influential people. Malala’s strength and courage almost cost her, her own life and even then, she refused to be defied. She continues to speak up for girls’ right to education. As a result, at the age of 17, Malala is the youngest person to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

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