Tanya Plibersek: "Education gives opportunity and it gives hope. Despair and hopelessness is the ground in which terrorism grows."

Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek writes exclusively for Mamamia on Malala Yousafzai. 

Many of us came to know Malala Yousafzai in tragic circumstances.

Malala was targeted by the Taliban from the age of just 11, after she first spoke publicly in support of education for girls.

In Pakistan, on October 9, 2012, Malala was shot in the head travelling home from school. She was 15 years old.

Thankfully, she survived.

Despite this horrific experience, and despite continuing to get death threats from the Taliban, Malala continued to speak out and campaign for girls’ education.

In 2014, she became the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her incredible work. Malala’s extraordinary courage and achievements are now the subject of a feature film, titled He Named Me Malala.

Last night, with the generous support of Hoyts, I hosted a community screening of the film in Sydney.

Given the terrible challenges Malala has faced in her young life, the film could have been very sad. And it was, in parts. But more overwhelmingly, it was uplifting. A woman, wise beyond her years, risking life for the benefit of girls everywhere. You got a sense of the close bond between Malala and her father, the man who founded the school she was attending in Pakistan.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. My 10 year old son loved the film.

The film showed Malala’s commitment to and passion for education, and her steadfast defence of her right – and the right of every child – to education began long before that.

Watch the trailer for He Named Me Malala here. Post continues below.


Education, she has said, “is one of the blessings of life — and one of its necessities.”

Around the world, many children are still denied this blessing and this necessity.

In 2015, 57 million children of primary school age were out of school.

57 million children out of school is too many – but in 1990, 101 million children were out of school.

The Millennium Goals, and now the Global Goals, have inspired a collective effort by the international community to make sure every child has the opportunity of education.

Now is not the time to slow our efforts – which is why the Australian Government’s $11.3 billion cut from the aid budget is so disappointing.

Malala called the United Nations to “a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism.”

In this year when we have heard such terrible news from Paris, from Ankara, from Baghdad and Beirut and so many other places, it is worth the reminder that education is our most potent weapon against terrorism. We sometimes forget that: the terrorists never do, which is why they targeted Malala in the first place.

Education gives opportunity and it gives hope. Despair and hopelessness is the ground in which terrorism grows. The Taliban targeted Malala not just because she went to school, but because she spoke up for the rights of every child to go to school.

She still does.

As she told the UN in 2013, “I am here to speak for the right of education for every child. I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists.”

Take your kids to see this film.