Millions around the world rejoiced when Malala Yousafzai won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. Today, Canada will embrace Malala by granting her an honourary citizenship to recognize and celebrate her efforts to educate the girls in Pakistan. Today, we must also expose and confront the distorted narratives of those in Pakistan who systematically misconstrue facts and figures to discredit her.
Then, I started my gratitude rowing. Now going to the gym is something I look forward to rather than dread. Furthermore, as I progress in my new good habit, I see a universal truth: the more I am grateful, the more I have to be grateful for. This Thanksgiving, here are some of the many things I am grateful for:
While the announcement that Malala Yusufzai has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Kailash Satyarthi of India was greeted with jubilation across the world jubilant, many in her native Pakistan have shown open hostility towards her while her admirers fear that she may now never be able to return to her birthplace.
I am Malala. I come from a lineage of women who fought stereotypes, racism and bigotry in their adapted homes in North America. I continue to fight it here in Canada. I am Malala because I understand what it is like to have others want to silence you, your beliefs and your actions. Each and every single Muslim woman who has been a victim of racism, prejudice and bigotry is Malala.
December 10 has been declared Human Rights Day. This is a day for all of us in the West, in particular, to pray for those who live under autocratic, theocratic, despotic regimes who deny their citizens their humanity. There is slavery on the 21st century. While we exclaim over the movie "12 Years a Slave," we ignore those who are enslaved today, in Sudan and North Korea.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper hopped on the Malala Yousafzai bandwagon by signing a petition to nominate the schoolgirl for the Nobel Peace prize. But Harper's singular gesture will never buy respect from the advocates of fairness, equality and human decency. Only policy reversals can deliver that miracle. Only policy reversals can deliver that miracle.
We did it! After tens of thousands of Canadians and even more people from around the world signed my petition on Change.org, we got every single party leader to get behind the campaign to unanimously nominate Malala Yousufzai for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. I had never imagined that not one, but all of our federal parties and leaders would end up supporting the campaign to support a girl halfway around the world.
There are times in human history when a single person becomes a metaphor for philosophy, morality, humanity, poetry, literature, and human stature, all rolled into one. Such persons lead by example, at times sacrificing their own lives for their convictions. We live in the times of Malala Yousafzai.
On October 11, 2012 the world marked the first-ever International Day of the Girl. The celebration was bittersweet, though, given it occurred against the backdrop of worldwide shock and headlines concerning 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai, a young activist from Pakistan, shot in the head by a Taliban member because of her ongoing work and advocacy to ensure more girls get to go to school.
Last week's horrific assault on Malala Yousafzai, a teenage heroine who stood up to the Taliban in Pakistan, hit us with a powerful déjà vu of Iqbal Masih, the boy from Pakistan who first inspired our awakening to social justice issues. If Malala's story has you seething, don't just shake an angry fist in the air. We may not be in a position to put our lives on the line like Iqbal or Malala, but that doesn't mean we're helpless.