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A Character of Malala Yousafzai in The Documentary

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The movie He Named Me Malala is a documentary about Malala Yousafzai who was shot by the Taliban. This movie is based on the book He Named Me Malala. In the movie her father said that her name means bravery. She was born “in the northern tip of Pakistan, in an area called Swat Valley, between Afghanistan to the West and China to the East” (Unger, 2015, p.105). Her mother left school because she was the only girl in her class which was shown in the movie, she traded her books and got candies (Guggenheim, 2015).

She realized that her female cousins were not going to school and playing in fields so she also decided to join them. “Her father is a teacher “who founded a school committed to teaching all children, in one of Swat’s small cities (Yousafzai and Lamb, 2013)” (Unger, 2015, p.105). As shown in the movie her father was the headmaster, manager and the sweeper. Along with Malala Shazia and Kaynat were also shot which was mentioned in the movie (Guggenheim, 2015). While she was on the school bus a “Taliban fighter stopped her school bus, walked in, asked which girl was Malala, and shot her in the head” (Unger, 2015, p. 107). “Then she survived and was then flown to England for her treatment” (Unger, 2015, p.105). She was in a coma. When she was in the hospital she had third world dreams where she was thinking she was dead as shown in the movie. When she first woke up she asked where her father was. Malala continued her activism in England (Unger, 2015, p.108). She was only eleven years old. “At the time the Taliban was banning television, music and education for girls” (Medeiros, 2018). She was asked by the BBC to be an anonymous blogger “and write about life under the Taliban rule in Pakistan” (Medeiros, 2018). “The BBC were concerned for her safety so she used a fake name for her writing” so that the Taliban would not persecute her (Medeiros, 2018). Her name was changed to Gul Makai as said in the movie (Medeiros, 2018). Her blog mentioned her being a young girl under the Taliban’s harsh rule “and how fewer girls were showing up to school” (Medeiros, 2018). Eventually her school was shut down by the Taliban (Medeiros, 2018). “By January 2009 more than hundred schools were blown up by the Taliban” (Medeiros, 2018). The Taliban also imposed a law which prohibited girls from going to school (Medeiros, 2018). Since then Malala was committed to being an activist instead of a doctor (Medeiros, 2018). When she woke up after nine days of being in coma she said “they can only shoot a body but they cannot shoot my dreams” (Medeiros, 2018). At the age of seventeen she along with “Kailash Satyarthi, a children’s rights activist from India, won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize” (. She said “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful” (Medeiros, 2018). Now I will talk about the themes in this movie. Yousafzai attended a school that her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, had founded (“Malala Yousafzai Biography”, 2018, para. 13).

The themes in this movie are gender inequality and feminism. Feminism is a movement towards equal society irrespective of gender (Women’s Rights News, 2017). Feminism is an approach which is interdisciplinary “to issues of equality and equity based on gender, gender expression, gender identity, sex, and sexuality as understood through social theories and political activism” (Women’s Rights News, 2017, para. 1). Gender inequality refers to a situation which is “legal, social and cultural” where gender determines “different rights and dignity (“Gender inequality,” 2018, para. 1) for women and men, which are reflected in their” “access to or enjoyment of rights” (“Gender inequality,” 2018, para. 1) which are unequal, and also assumed “social and cultural roles” which are stereotyped (“Gender inequality,” 2018, para. 1). In most societies women are inferior and men are superior (“Gender inequality,” 2018). Now the sociological theory which best explains the themes from this movie will be discussed. The theories which best describe these themes are the feminist theory, Marxist Theory and the conflict theory.

Feminist theory talks about “societal life in terms of women’s experiences, with the assumption that women are oppressed through a system of patriarchy” (Casey & Unger, 2015, p. 16). In patriarchy women’s lives are controlled by men (Casey & Unger, 2015, p. 16). Feminists took the initiative to “make social changes through conflict” (Casey & Unger, 2015, p. 17) such as “the suffrage movement when women demanded the right to vote” (Casey & Unger, 2015, p. 16). According to Thio (2000) women are treated unfairly in society which “feminists continue to struggle against” (Casey & Unger, 2015, p. 17) and feminists still “address issues such as equal pay for equal work, barriers to career advancement, sexual harassment, rape, violence against women, and the feminization of poverty” (Casey & Unger, 2015, p. 17). Now I will move onto the Marxist theory.

Karl Marx came up with the Marxist Theory (Casey & Unger, 2015, p. 9). He wrote The Communist Manifesto with Friedrich Engels, which explains that “society is broken into a ruling class and a working class”, and inequality is there when the ruler’s capitalist is exploited (Casey & Unger, 2015, p. 9). In society men are in the ruling class which shows that their superiority and women are in the ruling class which shows their inferiority. Another theory which best describes this movie is the conflict theory.

Conflict or “critical theories focus on the conflict” (Casey & Unger, 2015, p. 8) which exists in society “at many different levels” (Casey & Unger, 2015, p. 8). According to conflict theorists “inequality is built into the system and that those who control resources maintain their power by establishing rules giving them advantage” (Casey & Unger, 2015, p. 8). Conflict leads to social change (Casey & Unger, 2015, p. 8). The conflict that was created was that the Taliban was banning the education for girls. Barbara Mikulski says “each one of us make difference. Together we make change” (“Barbara Mikulski Quotes,” n.d.). Malala is one person who is making a big difference in society and others are supporting her too. Malala has made a social change by promoting education for girls. Now I will move onto how this film may inspire social change.

This film shows how Malala is making a difference in society by promoting education for girls. It shows that one individual can make a big difference in society. Now resilience will be discussed.

Malala is resilient. As said in the movie “it is better to live like a lion for one day than like a slave for 100 years” (Guggenheim, 2015). This means that it is better to be brave, take action than be quiet. If one is quiet, then no difference will be made in the world. The issues will still remain. The Taliban said that they would kill her if she returned to Pakistan. She had family support, which helped her to be resilient. Resiliency is the “ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy” (“Resilience,” 2010). Malala is an example of street resiliency, which involves “the pain of disrespect, discrimination, and regret” (“What Malala Yousafzai can teach us about resilience,” 2014, para. 7) and used it as a “fuel to propel” (“What Malala Yousafzai can teach us about resilience,” 2014, para. 7) her forward (“What Malala Yousafzai can teach us about resilience,” 2014). Street Resilience is when your emotions are channeled, guided, directed and used for a purpose which is productive, “instead of letting your emotions use you” (“What Malala Yousafzai can teach us about resilience,” 2014, para.8). Malala “did not isolate herself or retract into the shadows” (“What Malala Yousafzai can teach us about street resilience,” 2014, para. 9). Instead she “used the energy and emotion that followed her attack to do good works” (“What Malala Yousafzai can teach us about street resilience,” 2014, para. 9). Malala said that despite her and the other girls being shot they did not keep quiet (“What Malala Yousafzai can teach us about resilience,” 2014). According to her the silence lead to “thousands of voices” (“What Malala Yousafzai can teach us about resilience,” 2014, para. 9). She is currently campaigning for children’s education (“What Malala Yousafzai can teach us about street resilience,” 2014). Just like Mahatma Gandhi, Malala also believes in non-violence. She said even if she had the chance to hit the Talib with her shoe she would not because according to her “If you hit the Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib” (Unger, 2015, p.106).

Malala has done a great job in promoting education for girls. She has accomplished a lot at her age. She published her book called I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot by the Taliban which “quickly became a nonfiction bestseller” (“Malala Yousafzai turns”, 2016, para. 6). “Malala won Pakistan’s first Youth National Peace Prize” (“Malala Yousafzai turns”, 2016, para. 3). Malala was chosen “as one of the most influential teens of 2014” (“Malala Yousafzai turns”, 2016, para. 8) by TIME. She not only fought for women’s rights, but also fought for children’s rights.

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