If she does indeed recover, Taliban militants promise they will try to kill her again.
Of course they do. A teenage girl speaking out for girls’ education is just about the most terrifying thing in the world for the Taliban. She is not some Western NGO activist who just parachuted into Pashtun country to hand out ESL textbooks. She is far more dangerous than that: a local, living advocate of progress, education, and enlightenment. If people like Yousafzia were to multiply, the Taliban would have no future.
It’s not just the symbolism of a young girl challenging their retrograde Islamist vision that should frighten them. The substance of her ideas is lethal, too. Studies suggest that educating girls is about the closest thing we have to a silver-bullet solution for countries suffering from poverty, instability, and general inequity—or, in other words, the very conditions that allow a group like the Taliban to thrive. The social returns from girls’ education in these places are astounding and consistently include higher household income, improved child nutrition, smaller family size, a more active civil society, and better local services. The benefits can be political as well. One survey of 100 countries found that educating girls encouraged a more participatory society, and hence made these places more receptive to democratic reform. And countries that become wealthier, safer, more stable, and civically active don’t offer much of a future for the medieval Islamist throwbacks who set out yesterday to kill Yousafzai. So we shouldn’t be surprised that she topped their target list. For the Taliban, an outspoken, freethinking 14-year-old girl is the beginning of the end.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
What Scares the Taliban
Will Dobson on the shooting of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who had achieved minor celebrity in Pakistan as an advocate of education for girls: