Valdosta Daily Times

Community News Network

October 10, 2013

Should Malala's dad be the one getting the Nobel Peace Prize?

One year ago today, a young bearded Talib in Pakistan's Swat Valley boarded a school bus crammed with 20 girls and fired three shots heard 'round the world. In the 365 days since, Malala Yousafzai, the outspoken peace and education activist, has gone from lying in a hospital bed to addressing the United Nations on July 12, her 16th birthday, to now being the leading contender for the Nobel Peace Prize, whose winner will be announced on Friday.

But as much as the world loves Malala, could world peace actually be better advanced by awarding the prize to her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai? The founder of the girls' school Malala attended, he is an anomaly in his area of Pakistan - a progressive man who understands the value of educating girls. Without her dad, there would be no Malala, the confident, literate, English-speaking activist. Instead, she would most likely be lost among the four out of five girls in her region who don't go to school.

As Adam Ellick, a filmmaker who created a documentary featuring Malala before she became a household name, told Time, "[This] is a story about a father and a daughter, more than a story about a girl." Describing Ziauddin's education activism, Ellick said, "Her father has a sort of revolutionary commitment to his cause. He is an incredibly unique and complex person."

But for the status of women to improve, men with Ziauddin's mindset can't be unique; they must be commonplace. The cold, hard reality is that in areas of the world where men tyrannically hold all power, the situation of women and girls will only advance if men voluntarily relax their vise-like grip over women. This is what Foreign Policy contributor Christian Bayer Tygesen refers to as the "realist perspective on human rights." What he wrote about Afghanistan can just as well be applied to Malala's Swat Valley: "All Afghan girls should get an education, but unless the men ease their repressive dominance, half of the population will never have the opportunity to exercise their human rights."

We can create rap videos honoring Malala and bestow her with the world's top prizes, but at the end of the day, it's often men who execute the kind of change Malala is advocating. Less than a century ago, American women got the right to vote because a critical mass of men experienced "indigenous preference shifts," to use Tygesen's term. And that was in a country where suffragettes could at least freely organize and take to the streets en masse.

Malala's father himself acknowledges the crucial role that progressive men play in accelerating social change in male-dominated societies. In remarks this March in London, in which he made an analogy to whites' support for Martin Luther King's activism, he said, "In a male-dominated society, change will come and change could be initiated by men. . . . The journey which girls can travel in 100 years, if they are accompanied by their male partners - brothers, fathers - it could be just a few years, five years, six years."

Ziauddin Yousafzai has faced death threats. He has had to sleep away from home in order to stay alive and protect his family. Awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize would send the message that men in male-dominated societies who swim against the current to advance education and the status of females will be supported and cheered. His passionate efforts should make him as much of a Nobel Peace Prize candidate as Malala is.



 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 22, 2014

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cats outsmart the researchers

    I knew a lot had been written about dogs, and I assumed there must be at least a handful of studies on cats. But after weeks of scouring the scientific world for someone - anyone - who studied how cats think, all I was left with was this statement, laughed over the phone to me by one of the world's top animal cognition experts, a Hungarian scientist named Ádám Miklósi.

    April 22, 2014

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Do your genes make you procrastinate?

    Procrastinators, in my experience, like nothing better than explaining away their procrastination: General busyness, fear of failure, and simple laziness are just a handful of the excuses and theories often tossed around. Now researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have added another option to the list: genetics.

    April 21, 2014

  • Do White Castle prices tell us anything about the minimum wage?

    The paper looked at how many delicious steamed sliders the minimum wage has been able to purchase over time. The point is that as it notes, in 1981, the $3.35 minimum could buy a whole dozen. Today, at $7.25, it could purchase just 10.

    April 21, 2014

  • VIDEO: Moose charges snowmobile, flees after warning shot

    While snowmobiling in New England, Bob and Janis Powell of Maine were charged by a moose and caught the entire attack on camera.

    April 21, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 21, 2014

  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 18, 2014

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results