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Some Monday Morning Inspiration: Malala Yousafzai at the UN

July 15, 2013
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Moving and astonishingly confident speech at the UN last week by Malala Yousafzai on the UN-declared ‘Malala Day‘ (12 July – her birthday). Think we’ll be hearing a lot more from her – a future president?

Here’s the film my sister-in-law Mary Matheson made for Plan International to celebrate Malala’s birthday (which got shown at the UN event)

And ‘I am Malala’, a rather wonderful rap by young women musicians. Background to the video here.

And here’s the way Malala, who now lives in the UK, is influencing girls in Pakistan


  1. Interesting reflections on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this morning that it was a shame that media coverage of her speech edited out the compelling religious references that she made.

  2. Hello Duncan,

    It would be great to have a response from you or anyone at Oxfam, or Plan or Send a Friend about this concern:

    None of the campaigning from the above groups makes any reference to the effect of SAPs and other ‘internationally’ imposed policies and environments on school attendance. As a result all of the above agencies deny the great dedication to and progress in education made by Southern governments that was and continues to be extinguished by IMF policies et al. The above agencies are also happy to engineer through their adverts and campaigning (your sister’s video is a fine example) the perception among UK kids that low school uptake is purely the result of misogynist, backward Southern societies, families and governments and that all is required is a big dose of Western Salvationism and social engineering.

    I expect this plea for you to engage with this perspective to be ignored again as it has every time I have raised it with Oxfam, Plan and Send a Friend, but I will keep raising it and I WILL eventually ensure that it is addressed – I am inspired and guided by Malala’s tenacity and integrity in this.



    1. Hi Paul, given our years of campaigning against user fees, and other negative impacts of SAPs, not sure quite how you arrive at this conclusion. Back in the day, I even wrote a whole book on it (Silent Revolution: the rise and crisis of market economics in Latin America). For a recent Oxfam take, see http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/your-money-or-your-life-will-leaders-act-now-to-save-lives-and-make-healthcare-115075. For a more comprehensive critique, see http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/publications/in-the-public-interest-health-education-and-water-and-sanitation-for-all-112528

  3. Incidentally I have 8 sister-in-laws (the daughters of a poor taxi driver and market seller in West Africa). All are going or have been through tertiary education because of the opportunities, encouragement and sacrifices of their family, society and government and in spite of the massive reductions in investment and support enforced by the West. There stories are not reflected in your sister-in-laws video.

  4. That’s great Duncan, but it misses my point. I’m sure you know much more than I do about the issues I’m raising and I’m sure you’ve written lots of books and articles about it that are right on the button.

    I am a teacher and my problem is:

    the resources that are currently being used in UK schools (such as your sister-in-law’s) all (without exception)deliberately make no mention of SAPs et al and deliberately create the impression in UK kids that the problem is purely one of misogynist, backward Southern governments, families and societies that can only be solved with Western Salvationism and social engineering.

    I’d be really grateful if you could counter that assertion specifically and prove to me that I am wrong.

    I am not trashing what Plan, Oxfam and Send a Friend do, I am saying their campaigns are crucially flawed in certain areas and this needs to be acknowledged and addressed (urgently) so the campaigns can be tweaked and thus have more effect and integrity – do you disagree with this?

    Thanks again,


  5. Ok, so for whatever reason you will not engage with that.

    Could you instead please point to the Oxfam resources that explain to UK secondary school kids the link between the macro-economic policy and environment since the advent of the Washington Consensus and the current issues with school enrolment and achievement in Africa?

    Thanks again,


  6. The silence speaks volumes. It gives us more understanding about your perspective, motives and concerns than any of your books or any of oxfam’s policy documents or school resources. My frustration is intense, but I am trying to draw positives from our ‘conversation’. I understand now that there are things that you and Oxfam simply won’t contemplate, but I will keep highlighting this as this willful blindness has a pernicious effect on UK education and uk schools.

    Thanks for making things clearer.


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