“He Named Me Malala”—A powerful documentary and a call to action

By Madison Teuscher

Malala Yousafzai is a worldwide symbol of activism and education rights for girls. Since her childhood, she has been an outspoken advocate for the education of all girls in Pakistan, her home country. In 2012, Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban militant while riding to school. Malala was only fifteen. She miraculously survived, and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her tireless efforts to ensure the education of all children, regardless of gender. She gave a powerful speech at the United Nations on her 16th birthday. Her book, an autobiography titled “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban”, was an enlightening personal account of her life in Pakistan and the experiences surrounding her gunshot wound.

He-Named-Me-Malala_1444151780More recently, “He Named Me Malala” was released, a documentary detailing the events surrounding the Taliban’s attack on Malala. This 2015 film was received warmly, and gives insight into the beautiful Swat region where Malala lives, her life and family, details of the attack, and her continued activism. Recently, the Women’s Center screened “He Named Me Malala” for its Spring Film series at the Kenworthy Theatre.

Perhaps one of the most moving aspects of the documentary is the relationship between Malala and her father, Ziauddin. As a long-time supporter of education, Ziauddin encouraged Malala’s perspectives on the necessity of education. During Malala’s childhood, he opened the Khushal Public School, and encouraged boys and girls alike to not fear the Taliban’s edict banning girls’ education, but to rise above and choose to better themselves.

Malala Yousafzai stands behind a microphone, wrapped in a purple headscarf.
Malala Yousafzai speaks about systemic gender inequality at the 2014 “Women of the World” conference.

The film not only captures Malala’s story, but also presents the viewer with a call to action, to help ensure more girls have access to education. The “Malala Fund”, co-founded by Malala and her father, is a non-profit designed to ensure every girl has access to 12 years of free, safe, quality primary and secondary education. While Malala’s story is certainly a heroic one, there are still over 60 million girls in the world who are not in school. The release of the film is coupled with a 12-month social action and advocacy campaign that is creating global changes for girls’ education. Through in-country and global calls to action and audience engagement, the campaign seeks to raise mass awareness, create policy changes, and amass funding in the name of universal girls’ education.

It is certain that this is not the last we will hear from Malala Yousafzai. At only 18, she has accomplished so much in the name of education, and it’s clear that there is no stopping this powerful force.

To read more about Malala Yousafzai, check out our profile on her here.

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