NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Community News Network

October 10, 2013

Should Malala's dad be the one getting the Nobel Peace Prize?

One year ago today, a young bearded Talib in Pakistan's Swat Valley boarded a school bus crammed with 20 girls and fired three shots heard 'round the world. In the 365 days since, Malala Yousafzai, the outspoken peace and education activist, has gone from lying in a hospital bed to addressing the United Nations on July 12, her 16th birthday, to now being the leading contender for the Nobel Peace Prize, whose winner will be announced on Friday.

But as much as the world loves Malala, could world peace actually be better advanced by awarding the prize to her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai? The founder of the girls' school Malala attended, he is an anomaly in his area of Pakistan - a progressive man who understands the value of educating girls. Without her dad, there would be no Malala, the confident, literate, English-speaking activist. Instead, she would most likely be lost among the four out of five girls in her region who don't go to school.

As Adam Ellick, a filmmaker who created a documentary featuring Malala before she became a household name, told Time, "[This] is a story about a father and a daughter, more than a story about a girl." Describing Ziauddin's education activism, Ellick said, "Her father has a sort of revolutionary commitment to his cause. He is an incredibly unique and complex person."

But for the status of women to improve, men with Ziauddin's mindset can't be unique; they must be commonplace. The cold, hard reality is that in areas of the world where men tyrannically hold all power, the situation of women and girls will only advance if men voluntarily relax their vise-like grip over women. This is what Foreign Policy contributor Christian Bayer Tygesen refers to as the "realist perspective on human rights." What he wrote about Afghanistan can just as well be applied to Malala's Swat Valley: "All Afghan girls should get an education, but unless the men ease their repressive dominance, half of the population will never have the opportunity to exercise their human rights."

We can create rap videos honoring Malala and bestow her with the world's top prizes, but at the end of the day, it's often men who execute the kind of change Malala is advocating. Less than a century ago, American women got the right to vote because a critical mass of men experienced "indigenous preference shifts," to use Tygesen's term. And that was in a country where suffragettes could at least freely organize and take to the streets en masse.

Malala's father himself acknowledges the crucial role that progressive men play in accelerating social change in male-dominated societies. In remarks this March in London, in which he made an analogy to whites' support for Martin Luther King's activism, he said, "In a male-dominated society, change will come and change could be initiated by men. . . . The journey which girls can travel in 100 years, if they are accompanied by their male partners - brothers, fathers - it could be just a few years, five years, six years."

Ziauddin Yousafzai has faced death threats. He has had to sleep away from home in order to stay alive and protect his family. Awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize would send the message that men in male-dominated societies who swim against the current to advance education and the status of females will be supported and cheered. His passionate efforts should make him as much of a Nobel Peace Prize candidate as Malala is.



 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Community News Network

Offbeat
NDN Video
Bill Murray Continues To Be Just Bill Murray By Eating Some Free Bill Murray Ice Cream Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect Hillary Clinton Blamed Bill's Affair With Monica Lewinsky On Abuse He Suffered As A Child 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl
Special Features
NRA Waterfront Plans