Time Magazine named Barack Obama as the 2012 Person of the Year, calling him “the symbol” and “the architect of this new America.” Author Michael Scherer argues for Obama in the Time article, citing that he is the first Democrat in more than 75 years to get a majority of the popular vote twice, despite a failing economy.
But runner-up Malala Yousafzai should have been Time’s Person of the Year.
Malala Yousafzai is a 15 year old girl who lives in Pakistan. According to a New York Times article, in 2009, eleven-year-old Yousafzai wrote in an anonymous blog about living under Taliban rule for the BBC. She starred in a New York Times documentary and other films, chronicling her experiences as she spoke out about education for women.
Yousafzai received death threats from the Taliban, often slipped under the door of her family’s home. Her public demand for education for women threatened the Taliban’s usual oppression of women. The Taliban is known for keeping women practically on house arrest, as women aren’t allowed to go to school, or to walk outside by themselves, unless accompanied by a male relative.
On Oct 9, 2012, the Taliban carried out its threat to kill Yousafzai. A Taliban assassin singled out Yousafzai on a school bus and shot her in the head and neck. She survived.
Yousafzai, in critical condition, was sent to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in England. People from across the world, such as Gabby Giffords, former Congresswoman and shooting survivor, have offered Yousafzai their doctors, money, and support.
A Times article naming Yousafzai as the runner-up states that she “has become perhaps the world’s most admired children’s-rights advocate.” They are wrong.
She is a children’s-rights advocate with a titanium plate in her skull, a bullet hole behind her left eye, and months of rehabilitation.
Yet Yousafzai still wants to resume her role as a political activist. She encouraged fellow Pakastani student Ayesha Mir to go to school after a car bomb was found under Mir’s father’s car. Calling Mir, Yousafzai said, “I understand that what happened was tragic, but you need to stay strong. You cannot give up.”
Even while in the hospital, Yousafzai was photographed with a book in her hand, since she wanted to instill faith in her supporters that her goals stayed the same. Her determination in her pursuit for education for women is obviously unmatched.
For Malala Yousafzai’s bravery and courage, she should be named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. It is incredible that an eleven year old girl would stand up to the Taliban, but it is even more incredible that after an assassination attempt, she would stand up to the Taliban again.
Picking Obama as the Person of the Year is not just a missed opportunity, but also an injustice to Yousafzai and other more qualified participants. Naming Yousafzai as Person of the Year would have brought more attention to her cause, as Pakistan is not the only place lacking proper education for girls.
Yousafzai is not the leader of a country, nor has she personally enacted laws over controversial topics. But, to a certain extent, she leads others daily in her pursuit for womens’ rights, and her efforts could lead to laws protecting freedoms Americans take for granted.