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Malala explains why she risked death to speak up for girls’ education

Two years ago, Malala Yousafzai was targeted for assassination by the Taliban in Pakistan. After surviving a bullet to the head, she has become an international activist, championing girl’s education. Hari Sreenivasan sits down with Malala, now 17 years old, with questions from our Student Reporting Labs participants.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Related School chums of Malala Yousafzai add their voices to education equality Finally tonight, a different take on education. It comes from Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old Pakistani activist who was shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating girls’ education.

    She has since become an international figure. Her story has inspired children all over the world.

    We invited our Student Reporting Labs to submit questions for Malala. And, when she visited New York recently, Hari Sreenivasan put them to her.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Malala Yousafzai, first, we’re going to have you listen and react to some reporter questions. Student Reporting Labs has generated these questions out in the field.

  • EMILY VARNADORE, York Comprehensive High School, South Carolina:

    Hi. My name is Emily from York Comprehensive High School. My question for you is, when do you think your battle for education for all will finally be won?

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    So, she says when will your battle for education for all be won?  You have a simple dream. When will that be accomplished?

  • MALALA YOUSAFZAI, Author:

    When dreams do come true — and, in our history, we have seen that 100 years ago, women didn’t have the right to vote, but now they’re able to vote and they have achieved their — this right.

    And long ago, people were struggling for the rights of black people, so that they can vote as well, and they are respected in society. And it’s getting better every day. And now we see that there were dreams in the past, and now they are becoming a reality. So I’m hopeful that the dreams which I have now to see every child going to school, to see equal rights for women, I think, soon, in future, if you continue the struggle, if you work hard, then I will see those dreams becoming a reality.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Here’s Jeff Love of the Philip’s Academy.

  • JEFFREY LOVE, Philip’s Academy Charter School, New Jersey:

    Malala, why did you continue to speak out for women’s education, even though you knew you could be killed?

  • MALALA YOUSAFZAI:

    It’s a very good question.

    So, when I was in Swat Valley, at that time, there were more than 400 schools destroyed. And women were flogged, because we’re not allowed to go to school. And, at that time, I had really two options. One was to remain silent and wait to be killed. And then the second was to speak up and then be killed.

    And I chose the second one, because I didn’t want to face the terrorism forever. And I wanted to come out of the terrible situation. And I wanted to go to school. It was my love for education that encouraged me to continue the campaign. So, I think, in hard times, we need to raise up our voice. Otherwise, we will have to live in that terrible situation forever.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    OK.

    I also asked on my Facebook page and on my Twitter feed. And so I’m going to get some of — get to some of those questions as well. So, several people asked, how can people in the United States, from this distance, support education in a country like Pakistan effectively?

  • MALALA YOUSAFZAI:

    When it comes to the developing countries, I think you can do advocacy for that. You can ask the responsible people.

    And now social media can be used for this good purpose. And I know it’s good, like, sometimes if you ask — if you put a selfie on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, but it’s also good that you use it for the good purpose of raising awareness, of doing advocacy, and of highlighting the issues that children are facing, but as well if you donate to the organizations and to the foundations who are working on the ground and who need your support.

    And even if, like, you give one dollar, it can really bring a big change in the life of those children who are waiting for someone to help them.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    How do you convince, say, a government or an aid agency to say, you know, these 300,000 kids, you need to give them some instruction and education right now, because, otherwise, you are going to have a lost generation that could come back in a much, much more horrible way?

    I mean, they are still in many places in the refugee camps are tent cities. They still don’t necessarily have steady food or steady shelter or water. I mean, how do you convince a family that it’s really important to make sure your kids spend some time learning today?

  • MALALA YOUSAFZAI:

    The first thing is that when we do advocacy and when I do advocacy, I do not speak for my side, but I speak on the behalf of those children, on the behalf of those parents who are suffering so many problems.

    So, when I went to Nigeria for the campaign to make sure and to ask the government that the girls who are kidnapped and who are abducted by Boko Haram, more than 200 girls, that they are released as soon as possible, before asking the president, I met some parents, and I met some girls who escaped from the abduction.

    And they were crying, and all they were asking was that they want their daughters to come back home. And the girls, they still do not get any education. No one is supporting them. They do not even get, like, health facilities. So I ask the president that I’m raising the voices of these people and raising the voice of those parents who want their daughters to come back. I’m raising the voice of those girls who now need support and help.

    And the president then promised me that he would meet the parents and the girls. And he did right at the next week. And I went on my 17th birthday, so I was really happy that I spent my birthday in a place where there are so many children out of school, 10.5 million children out of school.

    It’s only about the primary level, but I was happy that the parents and the girls’ voices were heard. So I had a very nice birthday.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    So, I know you don’t have a cell phone…

  • MALALA YOUSAFZAI:

    Yes.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    … because you don’t — that would actually make you more busy and distract you.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    So what do you as a teenager?  I mean, you are a 17-year-old woman growing up in the U.K. When you are not — this is your summer break, and you are doing press interviews all over the world. Well, how do you relax?

  • MALALA YOUSAFZAI:

    Oh, well, sometimes I play cricket, and I play badminton. I also listen to music sometimes. And then I have an iPad.

    I don’t have a phone, but I do have an iPad. And I watch the news. I read some articles to be updated.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Yes.

  • MALALA YOUSAFZAI:

    That is important for me. And I also fight with my brothers, so that’s a good way to be busy.

    (LAUGHTER)

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    OK, Malala Yousafzai, thanks so much for your time.

  • MALALA YOUSAFZAI:

    Yes, thank you so much. Nice to talk to you.

  • PBS NewsHour education coverage is part of American Graduate:

    Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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