A news report : Nobel laureate Malala believes that whether women choose to wear the hijab or take off their burqas, it is their choice. She does not advocate for either of these actions except for the right to choose between them. She said there are far more important things that people need to be fighting for, like women’s individual freedom, their education and the prevention of violence against women.
The activist shared a photo of herself on Instagram with a lengthy caption about the rights of women and a link to an article she has written for Podium.”Years ago I spoke against the Taliban forcing women in my community to wear burqas — and last month I spoke against Indian authorities forcing girls to remove their hijabs at school. These aren’t contradictions — both cases involve objectifying women. If someone forces me to cover my head, I will protest. If someone forces me to remove my scarf, I will protest,” Malala captioned her post.
Taking a stand against the objectification of women, she asked people to rise above this argument and shift the focus to far more urgent matters that require addressing. “Whether a woman chooses a burqa or a bikini, she has the right to decide for herself. Come and talk to us about individual freedom and autonomy, about preventing harm and violence, about education and emancipation. Do not come with your wardrobe notes.”
The activist added a link to her essay about women’s right to bodily autonomy and invited people to educate themselves. “Read my essay about defending every woman’s right to determine what she wears at Podium.”
Malala shared some of her experiences in the essay, including how people reacted to her change in dressing when she was in college. “A decade after the Taliban forced women in my community to wear burqas, a photo of me at college in Oxford made news around the world. In it, I am wearing a jacket, jeans and a scarf around my head, a news report.
“Some people were shocked to see me out of the traditional shalwar kameez I wore for much of my early life. They criticised me for being too Western and claimed I had abandoned Pakistan and Islam. Some said the jeans were permissible as long as I kept my scarf on. Others said my scarf was a symbol of oppression and I should take it off, as if I could not be fully emancipated until I erased all traces of my ethnicity and faith.
“I said nothing. I felt no obligation to defend myself or meet anyone’s expectations of me. The truth is, I love my scarves. I feel closer to my culture when I wear them. I hope girls from my village will see that someone who looks like them and dresses like them can complete her education, have a career and choose her own future,” she wrote.
Women have been fighting for the most basic of rights and their objectification only diverts focus from the real matters at hand, reducing them to bodies instead of individuals with their own lives and choices. There is no argument where bodily autonomy is concerned — to each their own. So when the debate doesn’t move past that, the other rights will hang in the balance, unfulfilled. We are with Malala on this one, there are more important matters to discuss than women’s clothes.