I am Malala!

The Twitter sphere has been abuzz with thoughtful and passionate discussion around Malala Yousafzai’s recent speech to the United Nations. In a brave and compelling speech, Malala reaffirmed a commitment to the pursuit of gender equality and referred to herself as just ‘one girl among many’ ( BBC World News ) and urged for education for all.

By Laura Davies.

The historical narrative and political web behind this speech is far too complex to address here, but the implicit idea of the strength in a movement if we all consider ourselves to be just ‘one among many’ is one that resonates with me.

In 2011 the world average for women in parliament stood at 19.5% ( Guardian: Women in Politics ) but evidence has shown that education encourages active citizenship by giving girls and boys the knowledge to influence the direction of society and to engage in politics and democracy as adults ( Gender and Education for All: UNESCO report ) and more young people ( girls & boys ) like Malala may have the confidence to speak out.

Though some of the UK may feel that there is little more to be done to raise gender equality awareness here, recent news items suggest that there is still room for progress.

David Cameron recently made reference to Andy Murray as the first Briton to win Wimbledon since 1937 ( apart from the four women who won in-between ) and it took an online campaign and the signatures of over 35,000 women for The Bank of England to confirm that they will ensure a female representative is included on at least one of our banknotes ( see Jane Austen’s new public role ) and acknowledge that a review of their selection criteria is due.

Though I am sure that there was no intention to offend or ignore half the population, close your eyes for a moment and imagine the situation in reverse – for me, it doesn’t ring true.

Browsing Twitter it is easy to see examples everywhere you look that support the view you hold ( the beauty of social media! ), but I can’t help but feel that as we continue to encourage the younger generation to consider themselves as part of a global world ( through wonderful educational themes such as Wales’ own ESDGC – Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship ), we should embrace any opportunity to raise awareness of gender equality and its impact on the choices we all make.

If you stand alongside Malala in the belief that you are one among many, then you owe it to the collective of whom you are part to not be afraid of asking the difficult questions – have we really finished the conversation about gender equality?