The Girls You Didn’t Know Of

The Girls You Didn’t Know Of

Malala Yousafzai is a name that has echoed in the corridors of women heroes for a long time now. Malala not only became the youngest receiver of the Nobel Prize, she has also emerged as a hope for several young girls in Pakistan and other third world countries. Malala has become synonymous with upliftment and girl education.

But, it is not just Malala who has fought bravely in the battleground of suppression against bullets and threats, there are two more combatants who emerged victorious from the same battlefield.

Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan were shot in the same school bus along with Malala on the fateful day of October 9th, 2012. Unlike Malala, the physical wounds of Kainat and Shazia were not very serious but the mental trauma was no less. The girls were were so shocked by the incident that for days they could not even sleep. They made a good physical recovery but their families, like that of Malala before she was shot, became the subject of threats by the Taliban.

Kainat and Shazia dealt with the aftermath in obscurity. They were subjected to hostile comments of the neighbours for jeopardising their safety by living in the neighbourhood. But, there was nothing that could be done.

Then one day with little fuss and fanfare, both girls received an offer of a full scholarship from a prestigious school in the UK, The Atlantic College which Malala had declined because of her proximity to her ongoing treatment and rehabilitation resources in Birmingham.

Malala helped her friends, Kainat and Shazia, to get out of the hostile environments and both the girls are happy to get an education they had always wished for. Kainat and Shazia are thrilled to get the chance to learn and grow in a liberal environment but they are also aware of the responsibilities they carry on their shoulders for thousand other girls like them in their country. And, are determined to fight for the cause they almost lost their lives to.

“Before, my mind was closed,” she says. “I thought about education just related to my family. But now I think about all girls. I want to stand up for them,” Kainat talks about her future aspirations.

It was a proud moment for both Kainat and Shazia when Malala mentioned them in her speech at the Nobel Laureate in 2014. “I am not a lone voice. I am many. I am Malala, but I am also Shazia. I am Kainat,” Malala had said. Shazia was overwhelmed with pride when she said “We are really proud,” says Shazia, “we follow her and we will follow her in the future.”

The attack by the Taliban on the school bus that day gave the world not just one but three super girls to look up to. Malala might have become the face of the movement but Kainat and Shazia are doing their bit to carry out the mission. The two girls are out in an unknown country with only each other to rely on but are confident enough to take on the world.

Both Shazia and Kainat see a future in Pakistan. They are willing restart their campaign for education back home. They know the urgency of change in their country and want bring that change themselves. The girls are a source of encouragement for everybody to stand up to any obstacles they face whether from terrorist groups or an oppressive system. Their aspiration to promote education for every girl is encouraging enough to look up to them as two more heroes from the Malala effect.


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