Lecturer essay

Iam Malala – Book Review


Sincethe onset of the 21stcentury, there have been intensive debates on how to improve therights of women across the world. This is based on the fact that,majority of countries across the world has realized the significantroles played by women towards the sustainability of societies both inthe short and long-term. One of the women who have made it againstall odds is Malala Yousafzai, the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner in2014. Born and raised in Pakistan, Malala is a well-known humanrights advocate, especially towards acquisition of education by thegirl child. In the section below, the book titled “I AM MALALA andauthored by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb depicts the life ofMalala. The major themes as developed in the book will be clearlyoffered.

Themesthroughout the Book

Roleof Women in Pushtun Community

Inthis book the author (Christina Lamb) explicitly explores the roleplayed by women in the society from the onset of the text to the end.In the opening pages, the author introduces women as creatures meantfor giving birth to children and preparing food for the family. Inthis case, the society never bothered to celebrate the birth of agirl child. In reference to her birth, the author points out at theattitude members of society had towards women. While the birth of aboy child received by firing of riffles as depiction of celebration,girl child could be hidden behind the curtains and no one bothered toacknowledge the event. This aspect implies how the Pushtun clanundermined the relevance of women and their role was restricted tohousehold chores. The new born girl however received a differenttreatment from the father who had a special feeling concerning thechild.

Dueto the low attitude the society had towards women, many familiesnever bothered to educate their girls. Majority of girls did notadvance their education due to the perceived role the societypresumed. There was absolute disregard against women and no one couldimagine a woman doing something meaningful besides child bearing andcooking food for the family. This aspect suggests that Pushtun wasthe society with gender discrimination. The society discriminates awoman right from birth as well as throughout her life time. However,Malala’s life is different from the time of birth. Although therewas no firing of riffles, the new born girl child received the ritualthat was not common among other girls. Throwing of dried fruits,coins, and sweets to the newborn happened if the child was a boy butthis time Malala received the treatment from father’s friends.

ShiftingMentality towards Women in the Society

Thebirth of Malala depicts significant changes to role of female genderin the society. From the text, the author points out at the manner inwhich the society received girls at birth. Hiding them behindcurtains signified the low people had towards attitude femalechildren. To Malala, there is a complete change of events especiallythe ritual which male family friends performed on her immediatelyafter birth. The author states that her father’s friends threwdried fruits, sweets, and coins in the cradle. Such kind of a ritualwas a preserve for boy children but Malala is receiving the specialtreatment. It is most likely that Malala is the first girl child toget such welcome, an element that many people could not expect. Thisaspect became the starting point for changes which the society wouldlater experience especially in matters of gender roles. The societythat disregarded women from their birth was now receiving girls withcelebration although in a low tone hence depicting shift of roles.

Malala’sfather plays a crucial role in enhancing societal changes especiallythe attitude towards girl child. While other fathers could joinmembers of their respective communities to disregard their newborndaughters, Malala’s father is showing a different picture. Hebecame the first person to acknowledge that the girl child isspecial. The man goes ahead to ask his friends to throw dried fruitsand other stuff to the newborn girl. This element alone depicts therespect and regards the man had towards women in the society. Itpaints a positive picture in the minds of the reader in terms of howmen shifted their attitude towards women. The birth of Malalatherefore became the turning point for women in the communities, theaspect that is later reflected in her education life and career.

Inlight of this aspect, Malala’s father keeps on referring toMalalai’s story which inspires his daughter. Despite of thenegative view from his kin, the man maintains that the name Malalahas a special place in the history of the society. Malala hears abouthow Malalai defied all odds to taking active role in the battlefield.The ancient woman became the first woman to lift the flag of soldiersduring the war and inspires fighters significantly. It is through herrole that soldiers found the reason to fight on to overcoming Britishsoldiers. From this narrative, Malala’s father finds a reason toname the newborn daughter after a woman who did the extraordinarything for the sake of the society. While other women maintained theirrole of nursing the wounded soldiers and supplying them withnecessities during the war, Malalai took a different role during themost critical time of the war. Acknowledging this contribution alsoserves as the turning point for society values especially people’sattitude towards women.

AbjectPoverty in the Community

Theauthor highlights the issue of abject poverty among community membersespecially her own family. The text talks of shabby shack inreference to the house in which the author was born. The family househad two rooms one of which the author slept together with parents andthe other one for guests. The text implies the extensive effects ofpoverty in this family to the point of Malala’s mother using theschool tap for washing clothes. The family had neither bathroom norkitchen, and the mother used fire wood as cooking fuel. This kind ofdescription is a clear depiction of abject poverty whichcharacterized the family. Despite of this low profile lifestyle, thefamily affords to set aside the room for visitors. The author talksof how guests always flooded their house. The poverty level did notprevent the family from receiving guests, an aspect of generosity inthe midst of high poverty levels.

Inthe first page of the text, the author also paints the family aspoverty stricken. During the birth of Malala, her father could notafford to cater for a hospital admission or midwifery services. Otherwomen in the society however stepped in and did what was necessary,facilitating the birth of Malala. The author’s brother, Kushal, wasalso born in the similar state of poverty where the family could notafford the hospital fee. It is this description that creates theawareness of the kind of family the author hails from. From thepoint, the author describes the environment where she lived with herparents. The neighborhood alone was an indication of poverty besideshaving beautiful scenery in the Swat valley. Overcrowding andlittering of the environment signify the poverty in this particulararea where the author spent her childhood years. The kind of life thefamily lives is a manifestation of poverty in the community at theSwat Valley.

TheRole of Parents in the Lives of Children

Fromthe first pages of the text, the author adopted positive descriptionof her parents. She maintains this element throughout the narrative.Unlike other men in the society, Milala’s father exhibited adifferent attitude towards his daughter during her birth. The manstarted by acknowledging something special in the girl child andaccorded her respect by asking his friends to perform rituals meantfor boy child. The father of a girl child maintains the attitudethroughout the Milala’s life to the point of inspiring her life.Milala’s father adopted a different kind of life from other men inthe community including how he handled his daughter and facilitatedher advancement in social issues. Despite of his poverty level, hedepicted the responsible father not only to Milala but also to otherchildren as well. While his own father sees Milala as a bad name, theauthor points out that her father used the name to inspire her life.

Anotherclear distinction the author expresses concerning her father is theway he conducted his marriage. Milala’s father met his wife, lovedher, and proposed for marriage unlike other men in the society wherethe issue of marriage was the parents’ affair. In the text, theauthor describes her father as a wise and responsible man. The socialbackground did not prevent Milala’s father from nurturing herchildren well and encouraging her to bring the much desired change.In addition, the author notes that her father never laid a hand onhis wife as it was a common practice among men in the society. Inother words, Milala’s father plays a crucial role in influencingchange and advancing the interests of his children including Milala’seducation.


Fromthe book, it is clear that Malala Yousafzai went against all odds toachieve her dreams despite the many obstacles she faced. As seen inthe book, the plight of women mainly restricted to the kitchen andgiving taking care of children is evident. However, Malala was ableto achieve due to the support she received from the parents, mainlyher father. Therefore, there is the need to fight for the rights ofwomen as they are key in ensuring sustainability of societies acrossthe world.


Yousafzai,Malala &amp Lamb, Christina. Iam Milala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot By TheTaliban.Orion, 2013. Print. Pp. 227-327.