Monday, December 31, 2012

Malala Yousafzai is 2012 APU Person of the Year

Malala Yousafzai, 15, is’s Person of the Year for 2012!  The young lady had gained fame before 2012 for her work in exposing the ban on female education in parts of Pakistan to the rest of the world. 

In October, gunmen shot Yousafzai in the head and neck when she was riding a school bus to her home.   Currently, she is recovering from her injuries in a hospital in the United Kingdom.

Other candidates
Among the other personalities considered for Person of the Year in 2012 were U.S. President Barack Obama, North Korean Premier Kim Jong-un and South Korean YouTube sensation Psy (Park Jae-sang).

President Obama, whose Asia Pacific credentials stem from his upbringing in Hawai’I and Indonesia, rolled to a rather surprisingly easy victory over contender Mitt Romney in the U.S. presidential election.  The race was “easy” only when looking at election results in hindsight.  During the campaign, the president looked as if he was in trouble on a number of occasions and many doubted whether he could win given the economic situation.

In North Korea, Kim Jong-un gained world headlines with tests of the country’s long-range missiles despite the objections of the West.  Indeed, in an unofficial online poll by Time Magazine, which awarded Obama with their online person of the year award, readers voted for Kim by a wide margin.

The other major prospect was South Korean hip hop artist Psy, whose YouTube video Gangnan Style has smashed all previous records for views.  Despite some controversy over some statements made in the past objecting to U.S. involvement in the Iraq War, Psy performed at the White House Christmas celebration.

However, after giving the matter due consideration, it was found that Yousafzai earned the top spot for galvanizing world attention to the plight of women in areas dominated by religious fundamentalism.

Malala Yousafzai  is a native of Mingora,  a town in the Swat District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan .  A member of the once-semi-nomadic Pashtun ethnic group, Malala grew up in an area with significant Taliban influence.

She began speaking out on education for girls and women beginning in September 2008.  A speech that she gave in nearby Peshawar received coverage from media throughout the region.

In early 2009, Yousafzai began blogging for BBC Urdu and she was frank and forthright in attacking the Taliban’s war against female education.  The blog described the fighting going on in Swat District and also the ban on girl’s schools in the region.

Eventually she became chair of the District Child Assembly for swat and she continued her activism by attending the “Open Mind’s” project of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.  In October 2011, Rev. Desmond Tutu announced Malala’s nomination for the International Children's Peace Prize in which she was runner-up. 

In the same year, she won Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and she became a national and international star.  The recognition, though, make it easy for her enemies to target her, and last summer the Taliban voted to assassinate her.

Currently, Malala Yousafzai is recovering from her injuries in a British hospital.  She is scheduled to undergo reconstructive surgery after a bullet slightly grazed her brain although she reportedly has no permanent brain damage

A sign that she has not lost her fighting spirit came yesterday when Yousafzai blasted the Indian government over the handling of the recent Delhi rape case.  

For her courage and her tireless activity to help girls in Pakistan, and by extension, in many other parts of the world, we proudly name Malala Yousafzai as APU’s Person of the Year for 2012.