The sight of white men in suits applauding and gushing at Malala Yusufzai's speech at the United Nations, the media frenzy and vociferous support on social media was nauseating for me. Not because I deny Malala the right to campaign for what she does. It was more due to the sickening double-standards at play.
What "saved" Malala was not a knight in shining armour, but a skilled experienced team of specialised trauma surgeons and intensive care staff in the UK. That a 15 year old being shot for writing about civil rights might strike a chord with activists on these global universal human rights issues should not surprise us, except perhaps Baig and others that suggest a Western saviour complex.
Malala spoke about the threat of the Taliban on a Pakistani talk show, "Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right ... If a Talib is coming, I will pull off my sandal and slap him on the face." These words from a 16 year-old-girl put the hundreds of tardy teenagers who cannot bring themselves to get out of bed for school to shame.
Today is Malala Day. Her 16th birthday. Less than a year ago she became a victim of an attack on education, when she was shot and almost fatally wounded by armed men on her way back from school. Her bravery has shone a light on the scale of the educational crisis the world still faces, as well as the struggle for a future faced by children living in areas affected by conflict. The situation in Syria typifies this struggle.
While the debate continues over whether 2012 really was the so-called 'year of the woman' (or "year of the year of the woman" as the New York Times dubbed it, 2013 has so far been something of a mixed bag for the fairer sex. The news, uncovered on Friday, that the Church of England is to lift its ban on gay members of the clergy from becoming bishops, was undoubtedly a huge step in the right direction for the Church, but it rather showed up the fact that women still don't get the same privilege.
Our most recent occupation of Afghanistan has been marked, much like the others, by a directionless war that turns Afghans into enemies while getting bogged down in mud and blood. The growing occurrence of so called 'green on blue' attacks on allied forces are not simply a failure of security checks but a deeper sign that more Afghan's than ever are unconvinced that the 11 year occupation has been for their benefit. We should bring home the 9,000 British service men and women still stationed in Afghanistan, taking them out of harm's way.