Documenting a Pakistani Girl’s Transformation –

The Malala backstory:

While my original documentary tells the story of Malala’s struggle for education in the face of the Taliban, this back story also raises

some sobering and difficult questions. Malala was a brave young girl, advocating for a better future for all girls in her country, but was it fair for her to fight so publicly in such a dangerous environment? Or was she thrust into the limelight by adults captivated by the power of a child staring down the Taliban?

Given Malala’s re-emergence on the world stage — healing from her wounds and nominated for the Nobel — I thought it was a good time to answer the five questions people often ask me about how I came to know this resilient young woman.

via Documenting a Pakistani Girl’s Transformation –

14 thoughts on “Documenting a Pakistani Girl’s Transformation –”

  1. I think that Malala has become a great example and role model to the world and many people in Pakistan. However, I do not think her recognition is yet powerful enough to really cause a change in Pakistan, at least in the education system. As it was mentioned in the article, the Taliban influence is still strong and they are truly a very powerful entity. As long as they remain in their position, they will keep getting in the way for Pakistani growth and progress. It is worth saying though, that Martyrs like Malala are the people that bring change to their country. It is still unknown how Pakistan will deal with the Taliban but I am sure that this emerging leader will bring about a change that will astonish the world yet again.

  2. I am so glad that Malala is being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Her boldness in the face of such a dangerous adversary should be highly lauded. However, I can’t help but agree with the above comment that she alone is not powerful enough to cause any real change, especially in a society that is governed by such strict religious constraints. As a woman, the majority of men in her culture will look down on her, as a teenager the rest of the world will look on her as an unfortunate youth, if they look on her at all. I feel as if Malala’s fight is one that will only be won by time. Eventually as the world modernizes and the older generations pass away, fewer and fewer people will cling to the idea that women should not be educated. For a conservative society like Pakistan, it may take a few more generations, but I think that if people like Malala pop up every now and then to remind the world of the injustices of being a Pakistani woman, then eventually all those voices, and years combined will lead to reform…I hope.

  3. It makes me really sad and frustrated to read about the difficulties that women have in Pakistan. I applaud Malala with all of my heart, and am so glad that she is getting the nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. I really hope and pray for a Pakistan where women can have better educational opportunities. However, I do agree with the above comments-that one teenage girl is not going to cause a complete change. I was really impressed to hear, however, about the Pakistani TV show “Burka Avenger,” which promotes women’s education (there have been criticisms about the burka, but the overall message of the show is great). Here’s the link:
    I thought it was interesting, in the article, that the Taliban’s reasoning for shooting Malala was that they were not getting their voices heard. It’s like they were jealous of all the media attention surrounding a teenager who was standing up against injustice. I really hope that Pakistan realizes the incredible power that women have, and that they are so valuable to society.

  4. The “sobering questions” raised seem a little trite to me. I am not taking away from the gravity of the situation, nor am I advocating that they should not be raised, but the truth of the matter is that he covered this family and probably had a huge impact on their lives. No amount of second guessing will take away the fact of what has happened. I believe the questions are merely the expression of self-doubt. Journalists will always try and expose their world, and when they find someone strong enough to be exposed, something remarkable, like this, happens. Whether or not this man put the Yousafzai family in danger is beside the point; the real question is whether they are willing to stay in the roles they have accepted. Whether it was this family or another does not matter; strong forces will inevitably find and expose each other. If the Yousafzai family was not found by this journalist, another similar story would have been uncovered by another driven journalist. The expressions of worry given here are merely the ponderings of a man who cannot accept that by finding another powerful person, he uncovered forces that we was not ready to deal with. I know this probably sounds like meaningless existential fluff, but thats my 2 cents.

  5. I felt this documentary was very honest because it portrayed the life and culture of Pakistanis. This documentary didn’t blame the Taliban for being the cause of low female education; the Taliban are a big hinderance. But it also addressed the fact that Pakistan spends little money on women education, and there is also deep cultural beliefs keeping women in the home. Malala represents the rising generation of women in Pakistan and the middle east who are on the road to education. However, there is still patriarchal dominance in her education, as seen by her shift in her goal to be doctor to a politician. I still believe in the Malala and her future. She is a driven young women and I know she will be the face of change in Pakistan.

  6. Watching the documentary, I am struck by how poised and refined Malala presents herself to be. At such a young age, it is incredible to me to see the amount of maturity that she has acquired to face the challenges of her country in this day. Her composure in the midst of such turmoil and danger is inspiring to me, and to the rest of the world, and I fully agree that if any candidate deserves the Nobel this year, it is Malala. For a young girl with enough bravery and composure to defend the rights of herself and of all women in Pakistan is surely worthy of the world’s respect. She is, as the documentary points out, “just a 12 year old girl,” and yet she is able to so articulately and effectively convey her beliefs and promote change in her society. Speaking out for women’s education rights is noble enough, but to speak out against the Taliban, and later to endure and recover from an attack by them, is an incredible feat. I think this young woman stands as a great symbol to all nations of not only the importance of fair education rights for women everywhere, but the impact one young person can have against the influence of oppression in the world.

  7. I recently just watched the documentary “Half the Sky” and one part of the movie was focused on the lack of women’s education around the world. As the article indicated:

    “Pakistan continues to be one of the worst places to be a woman. More than half of Pakistani girls are not educated. Pakistan also has the world’s second lowest rate of female employment in the world, according to the World Economic Forum Gender Parity Report — lower even than Saudi Arabia.”

    This is crazy! Although I cannot claim knowledge of Pakistinian culture, I still believe this goes back to the issue the U.S. has faced many times. The U.S. is constantly in the position where they need to decide if preserving a cultural belief is more important than protecting moral rights. Ultimately, although I know people might disagree with me, I think it’s important to let the world know that women deserve an education regardless of their cultural background. (This is not to say that we need to force these other countries, it’s just to say that we need to educate these other countries on the economic benefits of educating the other half of the world).

  8. Malala has been a personal hero of mine since I first heard about her a few months ago. I think she has real potential to inspire the beginnings of change in the Pakistani educational system, even if that change is gradual and arduous. Her age and her sex are limiting factors, but also help strengthen her voice, because the fact that such a young girl has recognized a fault in the system and has the courage and the desire to speak out against it testifies to the severity of the situation. I am sure she has been raised to the status of a spokesperson with help from her father and other adults, but I don’t believe for one second that she is merely a figurehead. From what I can tell, she is a brilliant young woman who has been influenced by the activism and political involvement of her father, and inspired to use her voice to champion Pakistani women who continue to suffer. The fact that she is returning full force after the Taliban’s assassination attempt is further proof to me that she believes in her cause and is willing to endure extreme hardship in its name.

  9. This story reminds me a lot of a documentary that I saw last year called “Girl Rises.” Girl Rises looked into how empowering women and providing them with a voice and with education would ultimately change the world for the better. I am happy that Malala is being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize because she was brave enough to speak out and give a voice to those that are overlooked and suppressed. I think that the media needs to give more attention to those in the Middle East and other cultures where women are viewed as subservient to men. I do wonder what the Father’s motives were in making Malala such a public figure when he knew it would be dangerous for her, but somebody has to be at the forefront of women’s movements, and it seems as if Malala wanted to be that person. It is so saddening and sickening to me that it is still a common practice and tradition in many parts of the world for women to be considered lesser than men. Hopefully Malala’s example ignited yet another flame of women activism in the Middle East.

  10. This article does bring up a good point, has the author done more hurt than help for Malala’s family? The documentary unquestionably has provided forward momentum for women’s education in Pakistan. People worldwide know Malala’s story, bringing much needed attention to the issue, and her nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize adds to the growing recognition of the injustices in education. But what of the family? The article made it sound like Malala’s father has no plans to disengage from their lifestyle which has dramatically altered to be more internationally oriented. I think that the author was perfectly right to question his own actions, but shouldn’t be too worried, because ultimately the family is pressing forward in their cause, rather than withdrawing from worldwide appearances.

  11. I am impressed that the author of this article publicly asked such a condemning question. This page rightfully overflows with sympathy not only for Malala but for the thousands of women like her. Americans can have a hard time grasping the abject conditions of countries much different from our own. I know that that is true for me. I however do not think that blame lies with the author of this article. When a source contacts a journalist, they know the risks that they are taking. The author spoke with them of risks involved with going public.

  12. I was so pleased when I heard that Malala was being nominated for the Nobel Peace PRize because I think she has shown great courage and has been a positive force in her culture and community. She hasn’t backed down, and as this article states, neither has her family, despite continuing threat. I read today in the Washington Post that the Taliban has renewed their efforts in trying to eliminate Malala. What that shows to me is that Malala’s movement, as well as the movement of many Pakistani women, is working or becoming more of threat to the Taliban, making them put in more force to shut it down. Unfortunately, when there is a movement being had, there is resistance and opposition that often brings violence. Malala has seen that firsthand. In regards to if this journalist had a role to play in what happened, most likely in some way, yes. However, I think that it is not something that ought to be dwelled upon. If Malala or her family blamed the media for what happened, that might be a different story, but they have embraced the platform they have been given and have chosen to use it to do good. I also think that there are more obstacles for these girls and getting education than just the Taliban. There is a whole part of the culture that is resistant to it. There’s an entire mindset that has ben changed for this to successfully take place and I pray that it happens because it is devastating what is happening over there. They need people like Malala who are willing to be open and forthright, not afraid of what might happen.

  13. Malala’s story is a representation of how people trying to change the world for good usually end up in bad situations. It is frustrating and revolting. She was one among uncountable people around the globe trying to make their contribution to society and make their community better than what they found. The difference in her story relies on how young she was and the large proportions her cause took.
    Being from Brazil I can’t even count how many cases I’ve heard of people that end up dead or in uncomfortable situations because they stood up. It is everywhere!

  14. Originally as much as I thought that Malala’s cause was good, I worried that her father pushed her into it. But, after watching her exchanges with her father, I’m much more inclined to believe that her involvement is okay. Malala really believes in what she’s doing, she is able to have her own opinions outside of her father’s, and as far as she is given knowledge about her situation (in terms of the threats to her life and family etc.) its awesome that she is involved the way she is.
    If her father had been pressuring her into becoming this public figure, I would have said this was completely unappreciated, but it seems this is something she really wants as well. I am thankful for her bravery, outspokenness, and reason.

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