She’s on the mend. And she’s done something she didn’t have to do, especially after all she’s already been through and done. She’s confirmed that she’ll fight on.
But why is Malala so important?
There are so many reasons. But two stand out.
The first thing is the bravery. Not just her bravery, the bravery of someone standing up and saying something that could get her killed. But the bravery of the hundreds of thousands of people who stand behind her. The girls who go to school despite the threats. The parents who encourage them to go. The teachers who educate them. The village elders who don’t just permit but insist upon the building of schools where girls can learn. Could you do it? If it was your daughter, and yes, you wanted her to learn, wanted her to have a chance to be someone and do something different? Could you let her risk her life and go in? I’m not sure I could. But they do, so many of them. They defy the threats and the enforced ignorance and by doing so they show not just the world but the governments in Islamabad and Kabul and elsewhere that there is a point, that there is something out there beyond the Taleban.
Which leads to the second point. The obvious point. The “Malala moment”, the moment where someone somewhere must have said “Bugger. We’ve screwed up this time”. Must have looked at the crowds throughout Pakistan condemning this hateful crime and lauding its victim. Because make no mistake, the Taleban do care what people think. Not people in London and Paris and Washington, or not so much. But people in Afghanistan and Pakistan, people in Islamabad most of all. They can only win if Islamabad lets them win, and Islamabad will only do that if their victory seems inevitable. So the sight of all those people defying them, showing they weren’t afraid, it must have sent a shiver down the collective Taleban spine.
And brought a smile to the faces of everyone else.
So now she’s an icon, and she seems quite happy, for the moment, to carry on being an icon. One day, perhaps, she’ll have the chance to live a normal life and do whatever it was she wanted to do in the first place.
And if she can do that back home then she’ll only have herself to thank for it.