Malala Yousafzai: ‘People are listening to me. But I know that might change’

Aug 24, 2014 by

Malala has travelled the world campaigning for education rights for girls – but she’s also studying for her GCSEs in Birmingham. Inez Sarkodee-Adoo, student, political activist and star of the Observer’s Social Mobility Programme, met her to discuss what it is to be young and politically active in Britain today

In 2012, I crossed the finish line in my A-level studies: no easy feat while working part time at Topshop. I’d stay after school to clock in a few hours of revision in particle physics, then start the evening shift manning the changing rooms. In the backdrop, there was the euphoria of the run-up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games – I was to work in the Olympic Park serving noodle soup. London felt more alive that summer than I’d ever experienced it. I had also been accepted to study politics and sociology at Bristol University and by September I was fully stocked up on bed linen and crockery, ready for the independence of university life.

It was the year I came across Malala Yousafzai, the fearless youth activist from the mountainous Pakistani district of Swat. In October 2012, aged 15, she became the subject of the world’s headlines after she was shot by a member of the Taliban who stopped her school bus. Known to Talibs because she had campaigned for the education of girls in Pakistan, in both local and international media, Malala was asked for by name, and three shots were fired. Two weeks later she woke up in Birmingham, having been airlifted to the UK in a critical condition. At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital she made an extraordinary recovery. Unable to speak at first, she communicated with doctors by notebook; after four weeks she was able to move her face and smile.

I am passionate about political activism – on behalf of the pressure group London Citizens I made a speech to Jean Tomlin, HR director of the Olympics in London, asking that workers receive the living wage – but Malala’s story was a shocking reminder that in many parts of the world, standing up for change could cost you your life. Now 17 and living in Birmingham with her parents and two younger brothers, Malala has seen her life change almost beyond recognition in the past two years.

Propelled to global prominence, her campaigns have found support from everyone from the Queen to Angelina Jolie. On her 16th birthday she gave a speech at the UN in New York, where she urged leaders to wage a global struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism. When we meet, she has just returned from Nigeria, where she appealed to the president to take responsibility for the recovery of more than 200 abducted schoolgirls.

via Malala Yousafzai: ‘People are listening to me. But I know that might change’ | World news | The Observer.

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