Malala Yousafzai (age 24), who survived a Taliban assassination attempt and the youngest Novel prize laureate, says, “Afghan women’s fears are real, and we have no time to spare.”
“In the last two decades, millions of Afghan women and girls received an education. Now the future they were promised is dangerously close to slipping away,” Yousafzai published an opinion on The New York Times on Tuesday, titled “I Fear for My Afghan Sisters.” “The Taliban are back in control. Like many women, I fear for my Afghan sisters.”
She looked back on her past in 2007 in her hometown in Pakistan when she had to hide her books on the way to school. “Five years later, when I was 15, the Taliban tried to kill me for speaking out about my right to go to school,” she said. “After graduating from college last year and starting to carve out my own career path, I cannot imagine losing it all — going back to a life defined for me by men with guns.”
She was shot down by the Taliban in 2012 on her way home from school but recovered after getting treated in the U.K. She received the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17 in recognition for her efforts to enhance the rights and expand education opportunities for Afghan women and children. She graduated from Oxford University last year.
“Afghan girls and young women are once again where I have been — in despair over the thought that they might never be allowed to see a classroom or hold a book again. Some members of the Taliban say they will deny women and girls education or the right to work,” she said. “But given the Taliban’s history of violently suppressing women’s rights, Afghan women’s fears are real. Already, we are hearing reports of female students being turned away from their universities, female workers from their offices.”
“Neighboring countries — China, Iran, Pakistan— must open their doors to fleeing civilians and allow refugee children to enroll in local schools,” she also said, asking other countries to help the Afghanistan people. “We need specific agreements with Taliban that girls can study science and math, can go to university and be allowed to join the work force and do jobs they choose.”
Jae-Dong Yu firstname.lastname@example.org