Rutgers ONE hosts screening of 'He Named Me Malala'
A screening of “He Named Me Malala,” a biopic about 18-year-old activist Malala Yousafzai, attracted a crowd of more than 100 students to the Livingston Student Center on Wednesday night.
ONE at Rutgers organized the event to discuss the group’s goals and offer attendees the chance to sign letters to Congress.
As a chapter of the international ONE Campaign, ONE at Rutgers aims to consolidate student political power around campus. Through letters and phone calls, members encourage New Jersey politicians in Washington, D.C. to continue assistance to regions of the world with high levels of poverty and underdeveloped educational infrastructures.
“A big part of our general message is just the power of standing up and using your voice to advocate for something that you believe in,” said Tiffany Wu, president of the chapter and a Rutgers Business School senior. “This is what Malala has done.”
Yousafzai began fighting for educational opportunities for women in her native Pakistan when she was 11 years old. Her advocacy for equal rights and outspoken criticism of the Taliban’s oppressive policies made her a prime target of their attacks.
On Oct. 9, 2012, Taliban gunmen boarded her school bus and shot Yousafzai in the head and neck. Her miraculous story of survival and continued activism provoked international sympathy and made headlines around the world.
“It’s a shame that it took something as drastic as that to happen before the world paid more attention to her,” Wu said. “She was speaking out about this for quite some time.”
Yousafzai was invited to the Oval Office in October of 2013 to meet President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. In a move that surprised many, she told the president that she did not agree with some of his administration’s strategies in the Middle East.
“I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact," she said to the Associated Press after her White House visit.
George Zapata, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, agrees with her, and said bringing violence to other countries only incites more anger towards America and plays into the hands of terror groups.
In 2014, Yousafzai, then 17, became the youngest-ever Novel Prize laureate for her fight to guarantee every child the right to an education.
“When I found out about her story, I was just inspired how someone so young could do something so great,” said Chhavi Verg, a Rutgers Business School first-year student. “It just shows that you are never too young to make a difference.”
Yousafzai’s story and work coincide with ONE at Rutgers’ objective this semester, said Lakshmi Kalluri, the club's vice president. The group is gathering letters to send to Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) to urge him to allocate more funds to the State Department’s foreign assistance program.
“We want to encourage him to continue supporting the foreign aid budget and to specifically gear more of that to programs that will improve education for girls and women in impoverished areas around the world,” the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations junior said.
About 63 million children between the ages of 12 and 15 are denied education around the world. Across all age groups, girls are more likely to be out of the classroom than boys, according to a UNICEF report.
Although students will find it hard to relate to the extreme circumstances that transpired in Yousafzai’s life, many of them are close to her age. She is still a teenage girl and a student who just decided to make a difference, Wu said.
“It’s not really hard to relate to the idea that people shouldn’t be impoverished,” she said. “It’s not really hard to relate to the idea that people should have an education.”
Danica Ramos, treasurer of ONE at Rutgers, emphasized the need for everyone to have the same sensitivity that Yousafzai has toward the problems faced by people all around the world.
“As college students in America, we are a very privileged population," she said. "Because we have this power and because we have the benefits that we do, we are in a way obligated to use our voice to help others."
Camilo Montoya-Galvez is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in Spanish and journalism and media studies. He is a correspondent for The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @camiloooom.