Next Wednesday, Canada’s Governor General will bestow an honorary Canadian citizenship to the brave and ever courageous Malala Yousafzai. The outspoken teen was living in the Swat District, of her native country Pakistan, where attending school as a female was a very controversial issue, if even allowed at all. Yousafzai openly opposed the ban on female education right up until (and after) an attempt on her life was made. While on a bus ride to her home, Yousafzai was shot in the head and survived.
It’s difficult to stand up and oppose what we know is wrong or needs to change. We start weighing the ramifications of our actions or our words against the benefits and likelihood of success. What will others think of me? Will anyone even listen? What if I lose my job? What if I’m never allowed to enter a certain country because of my beliefs? All of these concerns, that may nag at us here in the western world, are quite trivial when you compare them with the fear of being shot in the head for politely protesting not being allowed to go to school.
There are two points I want to make on this story along with the side note that I am extremely proud to be a Canadian and offer my full support to our government in recognizing this women. First of all, the fact that young girls around the world are still being denied education and many other basic rights just because they are female, is disgusting! How can we as union members or activists, fight so hard for improvements to our comfortabe lives without acknowledging and stretching out a helping hand to those who are being neglected in such ways. Do we deserve a raise and more vacation and a safer workplace? Absolutely! Are we going to continue to fight for it? Of course we are! But we can’t forget that we have a responsibility as human beings to take a stand for these people. Secondly, in the face of death, Yousafzai stood up for what she knew had to be changed. Let us take a a tiny bit of courage from her and change the way we do things. Priorities within our unions need to change. Instead of continually trying to answer for why our labour costs are so much higher than other countries in the world, we should be connecting with those workers and giving unionism to them. Social media has made the world a tiny flat place with no borders. We need to take advantage of this to end the competition and join together regardless of race, religion, geographical location, or in this case, gender. Our differences make us awesome and our unified voice will destroy inequality.
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