On October 9th 2012, Malala Yousafzai was shot at 15 years old for fighting back against a group of individuals who demanded she not have the right to education. Malala was not shot because she went to school, many other girls who went to school were not targeted, it was her want for more that left her with a bullet through her head. It was her ability to see that she was smart, that she could be successful, and that she was not afraid to strive for greatness that made her so scary, men felt the need to shoot her down- literally.
The shooting left Malala, a young and innocent girl, in critical condition. If I had to guess, the point of the shooting was to kill her, but her being in a coma was something the Taliban could settle for, just so long as they showed the rest of the young women that these were the repercussions of standing up for your rights and trying to be heard. We know the rest of the story; Malala did not die. She went on to do great things and be the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize.
Why is this story relevant? We live in a society where women have education right?
That is only part of the struggle.
It can be scary, as a woman, to try to reach for positions of power- even in places like Canada and America. We saw in this last presidential election, as Hilary Clinton thought she would be making her way to a party with a roof top that looked like “the glass was shattering” as she became the first female president, her world shattered as the T.V.’s announced Donald Trump’s name instead. But even if we don’t always come out on the other side and even if things don’t always go the way we want, isn’t it not worth a shot?
It is crucial that women strive to build themselves foundations in politics because women are half of the population, thus it only makes sense they are represented when it comes to the world we live in and the laws that dictate how we can behave. There are so many issues in our world, like abortion, that women should be on the forefront of, and instead men who will never have to deal with these issues are the main people deciding what can and what cannot be done. Women are just as capable, just as smart, and just as educated in relation to politics, yet “when asked would you consider running for office in Canada?”, 18% of males responded yes while only 12% of females did.
Women and men, they can both do similar jobs. I am sure both men and women are equally qualified with the right amount of education and knowledge. The question is, is it worth fighting for?
For Malala, education and the right to be heard, was worth fighting for. And even though her situation is not of the same severity, it is no different than women standing up for themselves in the developed parts of the world to be heard and to not be silenced by politicians who want to take the world back to times without funding of necessities for women.
The Taliban threatened Malala, so she could feel as though she was not capable of creating change. And although all men do not do this in the world we live in today, some do and it is important that women do not feel as though they are not capable of change. Women are- just like men are. The Taliban thought they shut down Malala when the bullet went through her head, little did they know, that bullet was what woke her up. That bullet was the reason she could go on and receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
All women are capable of great things, especially when it comes to the world of politics. No matter what pressures are still present today in the 21st century, women pushing back and striving for more- just like Malala did- will eventually lead them to a pot of gold called freedom, equality, and greatness.
My name is Lujane Al-Azem and I am one of the candidates for Ward 5 in the 2017 LYAC elections. I attend A.B. Lucas Secondary School and love to participate in extracurricular activities including Model United Nations, the Muslim Student Association, and Relay for Life. It is such a pleasure to be part of organizations that wish to provide youth the chance to be celebrated and heard.
Why do we need more women in politics? I remember this question being strikingly addressed by my business law professor. His words struck a chord, especially in light of some of the recent events that have occurred across the border.
He said, more women are needed in politics, because a diversity of opinion is needed on the political stage. When issues such as women’s labour force participation rate are debated, we need women representatives who can speak up and fight for the best course of action.
An age-old debate exists, calling to question the fairness of such affirmative action. The best candidate for the situation should be chosen, it is said, regardless of gender.
Yet it is our individual experiences that may make us a better fit for a position than some others. It is a fact that that being born a certain gender, race or class, shapes our experiences. An Aboriginal woman may never experience the privilege that a white woman was born to, and that same white woman may never get the chances afforded to her male counterpart. Each individuals’ struggle to live thus defines them.
I say all this, not to set anyone’s backs up, or debate privilege, but to state a simple fact: Every individual’s experiences matter. And they matter even more so on the political stage. When issues are debated, decisions are made, and laws are passed, they affect everyone. If such decisions affect you, would you not want to have a voice in their making?
Currently in Canada, as of 2015 statistics, women make up 50% of the population but only have 25% representation (1). And women’s involvement in the labour force has stalled at 82% compared to 91% for men (2). Such problems are not restricted to being an equality and equity issue, they have economic and social impact. The more women that take up position in the political arena – collaborating on decisions made by women for women, the greater the overall economy will do. The working mother who struggles to reintegrate into the work force after having a child; the Aboriginal woman who has not received similar access to education and other resources that many may take for granted, all of them will have a greater chance of success. And their success will translate into the success of their families.
It makes economic sense, it makes social sense to gain more representation, to fight for it. We have a case of if not us then who? It is us, all of us, who have to raise our voices and be heard. This should not be a divisive issue, rather a collaborative one. An issue where all sides recognize the benefits of greater representation, and then aim to create practical change.
This is one of the reasons why I am running as a Youth Councillor for the London Youth Advisory Council. And I hope such opportunities will be a stepping stone not just for me, but for every woman who wishes to make her mark, and create lasting change.
Zahra Naqvi is a candidate in Ward 10 for the 2017 London Youth Advisory Council.