October 11, 2012; Source: Los Angeles Times

Some of us have not been able to wrap our heads around the motivations of the Taliban in Pakistan for attempting to murder 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai for her advocacy of the rights of girls to get an education. Although she was critically shot in the head and neck, Malala is recovering, but a Taliban spokesperson said they would do it again if she recovers. How ironic that the Taliban’s attempted assassination of a 14-year-old education rights activist occurred in time for the United Nations’ International Day of the Girl Child.

Malala’s crimes included advocating for girls’ rights to an education and documenting the Taliban’s destruction of schools. The Taliban obviously isn’t participating in the U.N. observance, which is focusing on the problem of child marriage. “Education for girls is one of the best strategies for protecting girls against child marriage,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. “When they are able to stay in school and avoid being married early, girls can build a foundation for a better life for themselves and their families…Let us do our part to let girls be girls, not brides.”

Malala’s would-be assassins shot her on a school bus, where a gunman identified her by name and then pulled the trigger on his weapon. Can anyone fathom what these people were thinking? She was targeted, according to the Taliban, for “preaching secularism.” That was her alleged crime: secularism as expressed by the threatening concept of education for girls.

What are U.S. nonprofits doing to recognize and honor the courage of Malala Yousafzai and to help girls in this country observe the International Day of the Girl Child?—Rick Cohen