Dear Malala

Pakistani schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban, is getting better following the treatment she has been receiving at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, UK. She says she is recovering because of god and prayers.

Dear Malala,

You are a girl with an extra ordinary talent. We the sane people in the world adore you,appreciate you, admire you, trust you, respect you, and love you. We are proud of you. We campaign for your Nobel Peace Prize. We hope you will get well soon and continue fight for girl’s education. We are with you.

Malala, you say that you are recovering because of god and prayers. But the truth is, you were shot because of god and prayers, and you are recovering because of medical science and skilled doctors. You are 15, you should know by now that Islam is not compatible with women’s rights. If you find a Quranic verse that is pro-women, your enemies will find hundreds of verses that are anti-women. It doesn’t matter how positively you interpret the verses, the verses are against women’s freedom. You will never can get women’s equality under Islam or any other religion.

I hope you have a curious mind and you will soon find out that it is better not to practice a religion that says men are superior and women are inferior, men can have four wives, men can divorce their wives any time they want, men are allowed to beat women, women are not allowed to give testimony in different cases, women are not allowed to get the property of father equally with their brothers. I hope you will soon realize that there is actually not so much difference between religion and religious fundamentalism.

Malala, be courageous. You don’t need to be like those coward politicians who use religion either to get votes from the ignorant masses or to remain in power. Dear Malala, do you really need to wear veil? The veil is nothing but a symbol of oppression. I hope you will discover it soon and become a person more educated and enlightened.

Sisterhood is powerful.

‘Because I am a girl’

‘Over two-thirds of the world’s 793 million illiterate adults are found in only eight countries (Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Pakistan). Of all the illiterate adults in the world, two-thirds are women; extremely low literacy rates are concentrated in three regions (the Arab states, South and West Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa), where half of all women are illiterate.’

Kamla Bhasin, an Indian feminist, has written a poem on girl’s education. Very simple poem. Sometimes very simple and very small things can touch hearts. She encourages girls to go to schools, to live their lives with dignity and rights.

A father asks his daughter:

Study? Why should you study?
I have sons aplenty who can study.
Girl, why should you study?

The daughter tells her father:
Since you ask, here’s why I must study.
Because I am a girl, I must study.
Long denied this right, I must study
For my dreams to take flight, I must study
Knowledge brings new light, so I must study
For the battles I must fight, I must study
Because I am a girl, I must study.

To avoid destitution, I must study
To win independence, I must study
To fight frustration, I must study
To find inspiration, I must study
Because I am a girl, I must study.

To fight men’s violence, I must study
To end my silence, I must study
To challenge patriarchy I must study
To demolish all hierarchy, I must study.
Because I am a girl, I must study.

To mould a faith I can trust, I must study
To make laws that are just, I must study
To sweep centuries of dust, I must study
To challenge what I must, I must study
Because I am a girl, I must study.

To know right from wrong, I must study.
To find a voice that is strong, I must study
To write feminist songs I must study
To make a world where girls belong, I must study.
Because I am a girl, I must study.

Study alone won’t work. Most of the educated and financially independent women practice anti-women traditions, and hardly try to break the shackles of patriarchy or fight misogyny. To walk with their head held high women need other things too: consciousness and courage. Academic curriculum does not always help women to grow consciousness.