My youngest daughter’s age — 14 — is the only thing she has in common with Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban because she relentlessly spoke out demanding education for girls.
This horrific event, makes me realize the many ways I take my daughter’s opportunities for granted.
My girl has access to education in every way. She’s gone to a good school, attended music classes and athletics, and if she needs it, can get tutoring and other help along the way.
The parents of girls at her shcool are vigilant of policies, complaining about the under-representation of girls in advanced math classes, and ensuring equal access to sports, arts and science.
She is surrounded by role models. Her mother, many aunts, and a grandmother, have graduate degrees in all kinds of subjects, so it would never occur to my child that she isn’t entitled to an education or to pursue any field she desires.
Nationally, women outnumber men in all levels of higher education and finally have surpassed men in numbers of graduate degrees earned. There are still a few disciplines where women lag men in attendance and achievement, making this is the golden age of education for women in our country.
Yet there is something relevant to my daughter’s life in the vicious attack on Malala, the bearded man, loaded gun in hand, terrorizing a bus full of girls.
Here in New York City, the police respond to an average of 700 domestic violence calls daily. That means my daughters have a one in four chance of being assaulted by a boyfriend and could be one of the 20 percent of women in this country subjected to sexual violence in their lifetimes.
Many men in Pakistan and New York believe it is their right to inflict their attitude and desires on women.
It is heartening to see the outpouring of support for Malala. Students and adults in Pakistan have rallied to her and the support of education for women. Many countries offered medical care and support and she was recently air-lifted to England to receive specialized care and rehabilitation for her injuries.
Malala Yousufzai will live but under a threat by the Taliban to attack her again, until she ends the call for women’s rights.
My daughters walk freely around Brooklyn. They argue in class and send opinionated e-mails to teachers and adults. My girls feel entitled to speak their opinions. I dread the possibility that they may be silenced by a threat or act of violence.
Here, in Brooklyn, my children have won the rights of education in all its forms.
But all our daughters — everywhere — deserve a life free of violence.
Read The Dad every other Thursday on BrooklynPaper.com.