Conflict Resolution Month Series: Malala Yousafzai

By Margaret Mitschke*

In celebration of Conflict Resolution Month, Student Legal and Mediation Services is presenting a blog series about individuals that inspire peace in their communities and the world. This fifth post in the series is about Malala Yousafzai, and her contributions to peace and conflict resolution.

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Malala Yousafzai is an activist, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, an author, a survivor of a targeted assassination attempt, and is not even 20 years old yet. The Pakistan native was living in the Swat Valley in 2007 when it fell under Taliban rule. Under its laws, many girl’s schools were destroyed or shut down in attempts to ban women from playing an active role in society. Under the pen name “Gul Makai”, Malala began writing blog entries for the BBC about her daily life, explaining her experiences living under strict Islamic law and being forced to stay at home instead of attending school.

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Through her activism on the BBC blog and other social media outlets, Malala and her father became known throughout Pakistan for their determination to gives girl’s in Pakistan access to free, quality education. While this fame came with awards, including Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize, not all welcomed her activism. On October 9th, 2012, at the age of 15, Malala was shot by the Taliban on a bus taking her home from school. Severely wounded, Malala underwent multiple surgeries and weeks of treatment and therapy. However, in March of 2013, she began attending school again in Birmingham, England.

After the assault, there was a global outpouring of support for Malala. On July 12, 2013, for her 16th birthday, she spoke at the United Nations. She authored an autobiography titled “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.” At the age of 17, she was named a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and accepted the award by saying, “This award is not just for me. It is for those forgotten children who want education. It is for those voiceless children who want change.” Malala continues to attend school, and remains an advocate for education and for girls to be the agents of change in their communities.

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At SHSU, our University Motto is “The Measure of a Life is its Service”, and Malala exemplifies this vision. Through her sacrifice and perseverance, even in the face of constant danger and the threat of death, she continues to work and serve both her community and communities around the world. Moreover, she does this not through violence or acts of hatred, but through activism and communication. Malala’s voice and influence were what the Taliban feared most when they attacked her in 2012, but these things are also was had made her a great agent for change.

As Sam Houston State University students, we too have the power to be advocates, activists, teachers, and proponents for change every day. What are ways that we can impact our communities for the better? How can we speak up for those that are forgotten or voiceless, as Malala does? How can we help resolve conflict with communication, rather than violence?

The SLMS office offers many tools and resources for student mediation as well as legal advice. If you have any questions concerning the resources our office offers, please contact our office by phone at (936) 294-1717, website at shsu.edu/slms, email at slms@shsu.edu, or visit us in the LSC, Room 330.

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