Tag Archives: education

We are all Malala

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Last week on October 9th, when Malala Yousafzai was returning home from school on her school bus in Pakistan, masked gunman boarded the bus, shouted for her to reveal herself, and proceeded to shoot her in the head and neck. She is now in a critical care unit in Great Britain and is said to be in a stable condition.

Why would the violent Islamic extremist group, know as the Taliban, target one single teenage girl? What could have demanded their attention to this degree? Why do they feel so threatened by a young girl?

Malala’s transgressions against the Taliban were simply this: openly advocating for a girls right to attend school and receive an education.

Here is brief timeline of Malala’s fight for education:

January 2009: Malala began writing an anonymous blog for BBC in which she recounts the Taliban practicing full control over her home in Swat Valley, and the forcing shut and blowing up of hundreds of girl’s schools.

March 2009: Malala went against Taliban law and continued to pursue her education, and utilized the media that reached out to her to give education for girls a voice in Pakistan. She and her father participated in a documentary for New York Times called Class Dismissed.

Summer 2009: Malala, age 11, committed to being a politician and not a doctor like she had planned.

“I have a new dream … I must be a politician to save this country. There are so many crises in our country. I want to remove these crises.”

November 2011: Malala was awarded the International Children’s Peace Prize for continuously speaking out for girl’s education. She became more nationally recognized, and both she and her father received multiple death threats from the Taliban if they did not stop speaking out against them.
“I think of it often and imagine the scene clearly. Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right.”

Summer 2012: Taliban spokesperson said they are “forced” to act, and the leaders unanimously agreed to kill Malala

October 9, 2012: The assassination attempt of Malala

It is an utterly tragic chain of events, and it’s sickening to think that this is the extent to which some will go to keep women from their basic right to education. But Malala has ignited a fire. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this week, Malala is “very brave in standing up for the rights of girls” and that the attackers had been “threatened by that kind of empowerment.” The assassination attempt of this teenage girl has sparked worldwide sympathy and outrage. On October 15th the United Nations launched a petition using the slogan “I am Malala”, demanding we call on international organizations to end gender discrimination and ensure the world’s 61 million out-of-school children are in education by the end of 2015.

By advocating for educational rights for women, Malala has turned a small problem for the Taliban leaders into a much bigger one. And if you don’t believe me, you can ask Malala’s former classmate:

“Every girl in Swat is Malala. We will educate ourselves. We will win. They can’t defeat us.”

-Marina

**As of this morning it was reported that Malala is now able to stand with help, and is communicating by writing. Though not out of the woods yet, this is tremendous progress for an incredibly brave young woman.

More info here:
Pakistani Schoolgirl Shot by Taliban Is Showing Progress, NY Times
Her ‘Crime’ Was Loving Schools, NY Times
Malala Has Won, NY Times
Malala Yousafzai will ‘inspire a new generation’, BBC
A 14-year-old Pakistani girl’s brave fight against the Taliban: A timeline, The Week

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Changing the World with the Most Powerful Weapon

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“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” -Nelson Mandela

Anchal often discusses the role of design as the vehicle for social change. However, we also recognize the great importance of education to facilitate and maintain personal growth. Ultimately, we believe they should go hand in hand. One of Anchal’s primary goals is to provide the artisans educational opportunities, in addition to an alternative design career.

Many of our artisans are illiterate and were often forced to drop out of school at a very young age. I quickly learned the limits of the artisans’ educations while conducting one of our first workshops in Kolkata. We were creating collages that day based on local imagery. The women were beginning to understand that they had the ability to draw more than a house and a sun; they could create beautiful artwork. At the end of the exercise the women began holding up their pieces. Devon and I were thrilled to see the joy of accomplishment in their faces. However, we noticed a change once asked to write their name on the back.

I came to realize that several women could not even write their own name without assistance. It is amazing what we can take for granted. In the United States, education is given to girls and we are encouraged to succeed. This is not always the case around the world. A girl’s education is seen as unnecessary, especially in impoverished families.

It is now two years later and not only are the women writing their names, they are stitching them into each quilt. What a powerful statement!

As we begin to grow and sales increase, Anchal is able to expand its educational workshops. Currently, the women are offered monthly training in a variety of subjects including communication (reading & writing), holistic healing, women’s rights, team building, entrepreneurship, stress management, financial planning and more!

Here are a few of my favorite tips from a lesson on Setting Priorities in Life. I know I could certainly use a reminder.

-Do things that constantly reinforce self-belief and prove to your own mind that you’re capable.

– Take small steps, look for little victories, and allow those wins to spur you on to do more and achieve more.

-Create and maintain a great environment in which to live, with love and laughter.

We have featured two of the workshops on leadership, here and here. Anchal’s long-term goal is to offer these programs and classes weekly to ensure real knowledge is instilled to the women and their families. Funding from Dining For Women next year will help expand our current educational programming but you can help us reach our goals sooner by making a donation here. You can even contribute to a scholarship fund for the children of the artisans. It only costs $10 a month to send a child to private secondary school!

Otherwise unattainable, Anchal is providing the skills, information, and confidence to the artisans which allows for physical, emotional, and financial independence.

-Colleen