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#BooksNotBullets

If you haven’t heard of Malala, now is the time to learn about her. She is an 18-year-old Pakistani woman living in England, where she moved after an experience that has shaped much of the world’s perception of the Taliban, children and women’s rights in the Middle East.

Malala had a fairly high profile in Pakistan as an outspoken critic of the Taliban, despite her young age. She was the anonymous author of a BBC blog about life under the threat of the Taliban, she received Pakistan’s first youth National Peach Prize, and in 2012 Taliban leaders decided to have her killed.

On October 9, 2012 a gunman walked onto her school bus, asked for her by name and shot her with one bullet. The bullet went through her head, neck and shoulder, and critically injured her – it was a miracle she survived.

The backlash across Pakistan and throughout the world against the Taliban led to the creation of Pakistan’s first “Right to Education” bill, bringing the accessibility of education for school children around the world into sharp focus. Since recovering, Malala began the #MalalaFund to “bring awareness to the social and economic impact of girls’ education and to empower girls to raise their voices, to unlock their potential, and to demand change.”

For her birthday, she asked that people around the world use #BooksNotBullets to highlight the importance of education and urge politicians and leaders to focus on educating their children instead of spending money on military forces.

For me, this just makes sense – and from the American view. Think of it, for decades our country’s leaders have been fighting groups like the Taliban, and ISIS. They have been arming the “good guys” and teaching them how to fight, then twenty years later, we end up fighting the very people we armed. If we were spending the money in our budget on educating the people of our own country and of our world, maybe we could figure out a better way to deal with our problems than using bullets.

ALL of the children in the world would have access to education. My mind can hardly comprehend the idea! An educated populace.

I hold no belief that an educated world society would agree on everything, indeed I believe they would agree on very little, but it’s possible that if everyone were educated, at least we would all be able to respect that there are differing opinions, and it’s okay to disagree.

Perhaps if everyone were educated, we could find a way to deal with our differences without war. Perhaps we would be able to find ways to work together and find good options for the world’s problems. Perhaps we could cure cancer, halt the cycle of poverty. Perhaps we could equalize the representation of the genders in work forces, representation in the government and in parenting. (*This is a totally random grouping of equality that concerns me as a person now, not meant to be a comprehensive list of instances gender equality would be helpful.)

So… we at the CWG stand with Malala in asking our government to choose #BooksNotBullets.

Ann Austin, CWG Director.

April Ashland, CWG’s social media gal.

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