TIME’s Person of the Year: Why Not Malala?

Image via shesthefirst.org

 

President Barack Obama is TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year. Again.

I don’t have anything against the President receiving the honor, but as I read the explanation for that choice, it occurred to me that if those on the panel choosing the honoree were really looking for a symbolic choice, the better one would have been a girl who was on their short list — Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot and almost killed for defying the Taliban in her outspoken advocacy for girls’ education.

I understand President Obama is a symbol of major demographic and cultural change in America, but I’m truly disappointed that those making the choice didn’t select Malala Yousafzai as person of the year.

Not only did she show almost unheard of courage in the face of almost-certain physical violence against her by speaking out about educating girls in Pakistan, she has raised awareness about the issue of violence against girls and women all over the world — an epidemic that few seem focused on. At a time when Republicans in Congress are fighting about which women should be protected by the Violence Against Women Act here in the U.S., and in a year where many people have had their awareness raised about what women and girls around the world face, through the book and movie Half the Sky, TIME Magazine could have sent a powerful message that it’s time to stop turning away from all the other stories like Malala’s that we never hear about. Additionally, by choosing Malala as Person of the Year, TIME could have brought more attention to the work that retiring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has done to focus more attention on the violence girls and women around the world face every day.

My seventh-grade daughter told me just this morning that her class had been discussing Malala’s story and she was shocked that there are girls just like her around the world who fear brutal violence and even death as a result of wanting the education she takes for granted. She asked if we could talk about doing something to help other girls like Malala, including purchasing a bracelet she could wear to show her support in a visible way. Imagine if it had been Malala’s image on TIME Magazine for all our daughters to see and the change they could help make simply because a magazine chose to put her on the cover?

A magazine cover isn’t the be all or end all in anyone’s noteworthy story. But given the fact that so many people — including those in our own country — prefer to ignore the fact that violence against women and girls is accepted on so many levels, putting the face of one brave girl who’s managed to survive it makes it more personal, and could go a long way to force those who pretend it’s not important to acknowledge the reality.

Image via shesthefirst.org

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6 Responses to “TIME’s Person of the Year: Why Not Malala?”

  1. Jane Says:

    I’m okay with Time’s choice, but I didn’t read their full reasoning. I think Malala is very brave, and a hero in her own right….as are the teachers at Sandy Hook, the journalists who risk their lives to bring us news from war torn countries, and so, so many others. Obama’s victory was historic though, and does indicate a country that’s in the throes of change.

    What happened to Malala was tragic, and her mission was indeed eye-opening….but was there a story there that people didn’t already know? Women and girls being treated horribly in the Middle East is, unfortunately, an ongoing story. What changes has it brought to Pakistan, to others in her region? There are fatwas against her, her family has been threatened, and there’s all the usual response from her government.

    I consider every girl who lives under that kind of oppression a hero.

  2. PunditMom Says:

    Jane, I was trying to make the point that if TIME was looking for more than a person — if they wanted to choose someone who was more of a symbol for something important — I would have liked them to give the attention to the work that needs to be done surrounding violence agains girls and women. I know that the President is a great symbol of how far we have come as a nation, both culturally and politically, but since he was Person of the Year once before, and as we face a critical time in our own country when some in the GOP are trying to chip away at protections for women with regard to violence, it would have been nice to see that get attention.

  3. ASuburbanLife Says:

    I totally agree with you. I’m a big admirer of Barack Obama, but was disappointed to learn he is (again) Time’s Person of the Year. That just seems like a cop-out.

  4. Jerry E. Beuterbaugh Says:

    Yes, she would have made a better choice.

  5. Edward Bryant Says:

    I might agree, if Time magazine was still relevant.

  6. Krishh Says:

    Malala is such a person whose name would be written in golden words in the pages of History. I hope that Nobel Prize will be honoured by having Malala as a Nobel laureate this year.
    With lot of love and respect..♥♥


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