“A girl has the power to go forward in her life. And she’s not only a mother, she’s not only a sister, she’s not only a wife. But a girl should have an identity. She should be recognised, and she has equal rights as a boy.” Malala
In her Nobel Peace Prize speech, young Malala Yousafzai said how honoured she was to receive such a prestigious award and how this gave her new strength to continue her work. The youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner once again underlined the core message of her powerful campaign: every child in the world, no matter if boy or girl, should have access to quality education. No one has been defending and advocating this principle more thoroughly than Malala, who almost died to defend her beliefs. In October 2012, a Taliban burst into her school bus and shot her in the head because she had publicly defended the importance of female education in Pakistan regardless of the Taliban opposition.
Awarding Malala the Nobel Peace Prize is also a powerful contribution to women empowerment. In fact, her work in defence of education for all is primarily focused towards young girls, because in many parts of the world they do not have access to schools. Obtaining the same quality of education as men is the first necessary step to reduce the gender gap: if everyone has the same capabilities they can pursue similar goals.
This, however, is only the first step.
In western countries, where both women and men are guaranteed access to high quality education, the gender gap is not closed, but shifted.
If Malala Yousafzai were offered a job in a company, would she be paid as her male counterparts?
Why are so many women, as equally qualified as their male colleagues, still paid less? Aren’t equal retribution and equal career prospects just as fundamental capabilities for self-accomplishment as equal education? The most recent case of unfair gender-pay gap happened this week in the technology industry in the Silicon Valley. Advanced Micro Devices’ salary for its new chief executive officer Lisa Su will be of $150, 000 less than the salary of the outgoing CEO Rory Read.
Parity of opportunity and meritocratic rewards should not be constrained to the academic environment and then promptly abandoned in the work world. This doesn’t pay justice to battles of women like Malala, who dedicates her life to ensuring that everyone gets a good quality education. Her campaign is based on the idea that education is an end in itself, but it is also a fundamental mean for self-accomplishment. For this reason, we need to close the gender gap to ensure that men and women have the same amount of capabilities.