Imagine teaching in a school where your students came back the next day, saying they didn’t have books to read or crayons to complete their homework. Such admissions were astonishing to me my first year of teaching first grade. As the child of a teacher, we always had what we needed to further our education so it’s difficult to imagine places in the world where children don’t have access to education and girls don’t have the same rights to go to school as boys. Pakistan is one of those many places where 62 million girls are not in school.
The world knows the story of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was targeted by the Taliban and shot in a bus on her way home from school when she was 15 We’ve followed her story of survival in the news and her triumph of being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala is an education activist whose story is now being shared in He Named Me Malala, a powerful documentary that is a must-see for families with tweens and older.
He Named Me Malala tells Malala’s story. At the center of the story is the very the close relationship that she has with her father who inspired her love of education, what life is like in England, her relationship with her mother and two younger brothers, and forgiveness for the Taliban and a desire to return to Pakistan despite the fact the Taliban has said they will kill her if she comes back.
Malala’s story is one that kids and parents alike with identify with and despite the tragedy of Malala being shot we only get a glimpse of the photos of the blood stained bus through still photos at the end of the movie. These are the same photos that we’ve seen in news reports, online, and are published in I Am Malala.
So many times it is a tragedy in the news that causes us to act. Malala’s miraculous survival led her to co-found the Malala Fund and campaign for girls education around the world. At age 18, Malala is inspiring for the incredible work she’s doing around the world but she needs our help.
4 Reasons to See He Named Malala With Your Tweens
As adults, we know the story of Malala from the news and perhaps her book, I Am Malala, but do our kids know her story?The film provides an amazing opportunity to educate our kids about the simple fact that kids in other countries don’t have the same rights as us and girls in other countries don’t have the same rights as girls here.
Before you see the film, show your kids the trailers (Official Trailer #1 and Official Trailer #2) and download the film’s free Parent Discussion Guide. Written with the help of my good friend and fellow former teacher, Elena Sonnino of Live, Do, Grow, the Parent Discussion Guide provides a lot of background knowledge so your kids can better understand the messages in the movie before you go and you can help answer their questions through family discussions afterwards.
The film does a fantastic job of showing how Malala’s father worked to advocate for girls’ education by starting a school in Pakistan’s Swat Valley to provide access to education in a country where it is highly restricted. Because of her father’s education advocacy work and his desire to create change, Malala’s family was targeted by the Taliban.
Boys and girls alike will understand what it is like to be different. Being different can make you a target but at the same time, it’s important to stand up for what you believe in. I recently had the opportunity to be on a call with Malala and one thing that stood out was her desire to let girls know they can stand up for what is right even though everyone around them isn’t.
But the film isn’t just for girls. As we look to create strong girls, we also need an army of strong boys who will support them which is why I’m taking Emily and Thomas to see He Named Me Malala. I want my son to understand gender inequalities and how he can support women and girls.
Shares the Importance of Education for All Girls
According to UNESCO and the Federal Ministry of Pakistan, the overall literacy rate for girls in Pakistan is 26%. Have your kids think about four friends and then the fact that only one out of the four can read.
The statistics are startling the world leaders are attempting to change this. In a surprise appearance at the Global Citizens Festival, Michelle Obama announced the Let Girls Learn campaign to draw awareness about the fact that 62 million girls (#62MillionGirls) around the world are not in school. This government-wide approach to enroll girls in school around the world is not only an initiative here in the United States but a priority for other world leaders. Quality education is one of the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development that was adopted by all world leaders who convened at the United Nations General Assembly meeting just a couple weeks ago.
We are lucky that we have access to choices regarding our kids’ education in the United States. Sometimes are choices are overwhelming abundant. It’s important for our kids to see what others around the world face in order to obtain quality education to have a deeper appreciation for what often take for granted.
Our Voices are Stronger Together
“It’s important to know your responsibility and believe in yourself. If we stop speaking about education, we will never see the change. If you want to see change, you need to bring it.”
I furiously typed this quote as Malala spoke during our call because it spoke to the importance of us using our voices to advocate for the things we believe in order to create change. Taking our kids to see He Named Me Malala is a great first step in having them realize they have a voice and can use them for the things they believe in and are passionate about.
I attended a preview of He Named Me Malala courtesy of Fox Searchlight at Blogalicious and participated in a phone call with Malala thanks to Women Online. All opinions are my own.