A Call to Action
It is not only me, a woman of Pakistani roots, but all rational human beings on the planet, that are praying for young Malala Yousufzai as she fights for her life in a hospital in the U.K. The young girl has captivated hearts and minds worldwide and created urgency within us.
Malala’s love of learning caused a horrible, violent reaction by irrational fanatics. Her bravery inspires action. We cannot leave her to shoulder the burden of educational reform alone.
Experts say that only when institutions are reformed and the government of Pakistan undergoes a paradigm shift can the violence stop. Educational experts along with advocacy groups like RESULTS, of which I am a member, are calling for the passage of the Education for All Act, which seeks to ensure that U.S. policy contributes to a successful international effort to provide all children with a quality basic education.
On the subject of education, one disturbing issue is the promise the World Bank made in 2010 when it pledged to increase resources for basic education “…by an additional $750 million over the next five years to 2015…” However, in implementing this promise, the World Bank used an 11 year average in determining the “increase” with the result that the funding for education decreased rather than increased.
Years ago, retired Republican Senator Mark Hatfield said, “We stand by as children starve by the millions because we lack the will to eliminate hunger. Yet we have found the will to develop missiles, capable of flying over the polar cap and landing within a few hundred feet of their target. This is not innovation. It is a profound distortion of humanity’s purpose on earth.”
Starvation is a profound distortion, but so is denying basic education to millions of poor children, especially girls. The attack on Malala is a result of deep-rooted conflicts between the United States and Pakistan, and lack of political will on the part of Pakistani politicians to protect its citizens. Until we start to take action, however, these issues will not be tackled.
Unlike Pakistan, we live in a functioning democratic society. Let’s do our duty as citizens to tell our elected U.S. Senators and Representatives that we support the Education for All Act, and also urge them to hold the World Bank accountable to its pledge to increase funding for education.
At a benefit dinner last Friday, Joanne Carter, the executive director of RESULTS said, “We are at a moment of stunning potential in the world.” This is true as long as there are people like Malala who stand up for what is right.
It was not, and never will be, a drone strike that saves Malala and her beloved school. The attack on Malala is a perfect example of how violence only begets more violence. Incessant drone strikes will only cause more violent reactions from extremists and endanger the schoolchildren we must protect.
It will be the pride that Malala’s struggle for change ignites in Pakistan, and the American idealism that she has embodied.