Schoolgirls in black walking along street
Brave girls look up
to Malala

Malala is not alone. The girls interviewed here all come from areas where there is violence and terror. Just like Malala, they fight for girls’ right to go to school. It can be dangerous for them to do that. That’s why their faces are covered in the photo below.

Parents have responsibility
“For our country to develop, we need education. Parents have responsibility to make sure all children go to school. Where I live, everyone is afraid of the Taliban and of being hurt by bombs. 
The most recent attack was just a few days ago. Many people don’t dare go out when there is unrest. I prefer to try to go out, although I am afraid. My family are scared too and they wait for me to come home.
“Malala is so brave. I admire her. She wrote a diary about the Taliban that made them angry, and they shot her.”
Manoor, 14

Fighting for others
“Those of us who are able to go to school know that we have responsibility for others too. In the area where I live there are lots of girls who come from poor families, and nobody has bothered to send them to school. Sometimes it is enough for me just to talk to the girls, and other times I have to go to the parents and discuss it with them. Because of this, many of them now go to school.
“We have many problems in our area – the Taliban, bombs, and horrible boys who shout stupid things at girls who are walking to school. I have decided that I want an education, so I have to go to school even when the road to school is hard. Education is light – and light spreads. We want that light to shine on the whole area where I live, and all over our country.
“Malala is so brave. I agree with her completely, and I want everyone to get an education. All girls have a right to an education. I am glad that I go to a school where we learn how to fight for others. We can’t talk about Malala everywhere, because a lot of people are against her and against education for girls, but there are many of us fighting just as she does.”
Sofia, 15

Anonymous girls from Swat Valley

Education is everything
“Education is everything. It affects your whole life, and without education we can’t do much. The right education can mean a lot. In my country, all jobs that boys can train for can be done by girls too. If I want to I could become a police officer, soldier, pilot or anything else. Boys and girls can have the same jobs. 
   “Politics is important too. Without politics, we cannot develop our country. Everyone has a right to get involved in politics. I want to do that too, and when I gain power I will work to make sure everyone in our country gets an education. A good education. Right now most schools don’t have a very good system. Many people just learn to recite by rote, and poor parents think it’s better for their children to get a job and an income. 
   “Sometimes we have problems with bombs and there is unrest in our area. At those times I have to stay home from school and that makes me sad. I know that I’m missing out on something important.
 “I am grateful that Malala has expressed all girls’ right to go to school so clearly. Lots of parents in our area make their girls stay at home because they want full control over them. My friends and I talk to children that we meet and encourage them to start school. We talk to their parents too. Sometimes they listen to us and allow their children to go to school.
   I am happy that Malala is able to continue studying. When I found out that she writes a diary I got myself a diary too and now I write in it every day.”
Asma, 14

Photos: Britt Mare Klang and Veronique de Viguerie/Getty Images (top photo)


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