In an Oct. 29 Chronicle of Higher Education commentary centered around the shooting in Pakistan of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai, Bryn Mawr President Jane McAuliffe writes about the need to “dedicate ourselves anew to the goal of women’s empowerment and the critical role that education must play in that process”
From How Should We Respond to Malala?:
“How do we, as educators, as faculty and administrators within the world’s finest education system, respond to Malala? Two possibilities immediately come to mind. First, we can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the masses of Pakistanis—women and men, schoolgirls and leading Muslim clerics, tribal elders in the very region where Malala was shot and residents of Islamabad—in condemning this despicable act. Second, we can dedicate ourselves anew to the goal of women’s empowerment and the critical role that education must play in that process.
“In both cases, we will also be affirming that things are moving forward amid the social disruption that has defined these early years of the 21st century. In ways both unsettling and promising, the seismic political and economic shifts of the last few years have undermined social structures that have been in place for centuries. The Arab Spring has ignited hope for the spread of democracy. The free flow of information on the Internet has allowed new and compelling voices—such as Malala’s—to be heard.
“Where things are headed is not yet clear. Backlash, retribution, and conflict are in ample supply. But so is the possibility of understanding one another in new ways and building societies that acknowledge and move forward through the strengths of all their citizens. Disruption causes fissures that sunder older structures but also open pathways to new ones.”