My Woman of the Year 2013? A schoolgirl who has never heard of twerking (I hope)

Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai reading a book at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where she was being treated for gunshot wounds inflicted by the Taliban in Pakistan.  AFP PHOTO.
Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai reading a book at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where she was being treated for gunshot wounds inflicted by the Taliban in Pakistan. AFP PHOTO.
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My wish for the New Year? That our daughters and grand-daughters would resolve not to read or heed a single word from tweeting, twerking, selfie-obsessed publicity-seekers like Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, any of the krass Kardashians and the entire cast of TOWIE.

It is too big an ask, I know. The worshipping of the not so much hollow as shallow and silicon-filled goddesses of popular culture is endemic in Western society. But how much more meaningful and happy would our girls’ futures be if they had as their idol someone as ordinary as them, who did something so extraordinary, the entire world takes up her baton?

I am talking about my Woman Of The Year 2013. Having ruminated on the females who made their mark during the past 12 months, my gong goes to a 16-year-old girl from a remote village in Pakistan.

All Malala Yousafzai wanted was an education and to get it, she flew in the face of bullying threats from the Taliban, who wanted to keep their womenfolk repressed by illiteracy. She went to school, penned a blog - not about how to apply the latest make-up, but about her life under Taliban rule for the BBC - and became a spokesperson for women’s rights, so they ambushed her school bus and tried to silence her.

They did not succeed, in so many ways. She survived being shot in the head and neck to become an international symbol of defiance and female empowerment. Last July 12 - her 16th birthday - she gave a powerful speech at a United Nations conference dubbed Malala Day. “Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons,” she urged - food for thought for every Educating Yorkshire pupil who reckons to hate school. Named one of the 100 most influential people in the world and the first girl and youngest person ever to be nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, Malala should rightly be every thinking girl’s heroine.