By ANGELINA JOLIE
On Wednesday morning, as we readied the kids for school amidst a few of the usual complaints about not wanting to go, I saw a headline on the cover of The New York Times: Taliban Gun Down a Girl Who Spoke Up for Rights.
The Taliban claimed that 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai “ignored their warnings, and she left them no choice.”
They approached her school bus, asking for her by name, and shot her in the head for promoting girls’ education.
After reading the article, I felt compelled to share Malala’s story with my children. It was difficult for them to comprehend a world where men would try to kill a child whose only “crime” was the desire that she and others like her be allowed to go to school.
Malala’s story stayed with them throughout the day, and that night they were full of questions. We learned about Malala together, watching her interviews and reading her diaries. Malala was just 11 years old when she began blogging for the BBC. She wrote of life under the Taliban, of trading in her school uniform for colorless plain clothes, of hiding books under her shawl, and eventually having to stop going to school entirely.
Our 8-year-old suggested that the world build a statue for Malala, and fittingly create a reading nook near it. Our 6-year-old asked the practical question of whether Malala had any pets, and if so, who would take care of them? She also asked about Malala’s parents and if they were crying. We decided that they were, but not only for their daughter, also for children around the world denied this basic human right. Like Malala, her parents are icons of bravery and strength. Malala’s father, also a long time champion for girls’ education, is a school principal, teacher, and poet.
The following morning, the news showed pictures of children across Pakistan holding up Malala’s picture at vigils and demonstrations, and praying in schools. My son worried that girls were going to be shot for standing up for Malala. I told him that they were aware of the danger, but publicly supporting her reflects how much Malala means to them. Malala’s courage reminded all Pakistanis how important an education is. Her bravery inspired their own.