You are right, Malala’s speech could have been better!

Published: July 15, 2013
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Malala's speech could have better if it was delivered by Obama. PHOTO: AFP

It was a privilege to take a few minutes off my life and listen to Malala Yousafzai’s speech at the United Nations– alas, on YouTube. I’ve been away from social media the past few days, but I couldn’t help but take a cursory look at social media to see folks questioning whether Malala’s speech could have been better.

Strangely, I have to swallow my anger and admit: you are right. Malala’s speech could have been better!

It could have been better if this speech was delivered at the UN General Assembly by Barack Hussein Obama, the President of the United States – the single most powerful leader in the world. It would have been better if in attendance weren’t young people from around the world, but the leaders of all of the world’s nations – including Pakistan’s Prime Minister Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif.

It would have been better if the speech was topped off by a UN resolution recognising the threats to the rights of children and their access to education and a firm promise that the world’s countries will not stop until every child’s right to education is respected and they are provided access to it. It could have been better if that resolution was passed unanimously by a vote from every single member state. And it would have been better if the promises in that resolution were kept.

In a world like that, this speech, the one Malala delivered, could and would’ve been better.

But we don’t live in a world like that.

We live in a horrible, terrible world. A world where a teenager, brutally shot in the head for wanting education has to recover from her injuries and despite threats to her life, forget about living a normal life, or celebrating her birthday, adorn herself with the shawl of another woman who was brutally murdered for wanting rights for all and implore the world to act. And her pleas will more likely than not still get ignored.

I agree with you.

This is a travesty.

Screw this speech.

Don’t be proud, don’t be happy, don’t be grateful and do nothing. Because the fact that you cannot admire a human being like Malala really speaks to the fact that you cannot imagine a different world. You are stuck in a place where what happened to Malala and what happens to children like her cannot be averted.

You cannot dream nor can you commit to dreams of a better future like Malala. You are like the leaders of our country; not only are you spineless and unwilling to contribute to change, but you are unable to even recognise those who at least try to make that change possible – even if they don’t have the backing of people of your ilk. That’s why we have to make do with a world where 16-year-olds teach us lessons in courage and personal sacrifice while people like you chime in to undermine her work.

So yes… Malala’s speech could’ve been better.

Read more by Josh here, or follow him on Twitter @JShahryar

Josh Shahryar

Josh Shahryar

A US-based reporter and blogger, covering human rights in South Asia and the larger Middle East. He tweets @JShahryar (twitter.com/JShahryar)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.