Malala Yousafzai, who at 17 became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, has influenced countless people all over the world as an activist for female education. One of those is Yoshiko Nishida.
The translator of Malala’s memoir “I am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban,” has begun raising donations in her hometown of Nagoya for the Malala Fund, which was founded by Malala to support female education in Pakistan.
“I was inspired by Malala, who took action (for a cause she believed in), to start doing something myself, too,” said the 49-year-old translator, who now lives in the western Tokyo suburb of Tachikawa.
Nishida started translating the memoir last summer after her mentor, Mizuhito Kanehara, 59, recommended it to her.
Before starting, the only thing she knew about Malala was that she was a Pakistani girl who survived an attack by the Taliban. As she translated more and more of the book, however, Nishida found out that Malala received the best love and care from her parents — a rare thing in Pakistan, where girls are viewed as less important than boys. Nishida was attracted by Malala’s family, who worked hard to provide her an education.
Born in 1997 in the Swat Valley of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan’s northwest, Malala started a blog to speak out about local Islamic extremists’ moves to ban female education. On Oct. 9, 2012, she was shot by a Taliban gunman on her way home.
At that point in her translation, Nishida couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. She cried as she thought about how Malala must have felt when she was reunited with her parents in a hospital. She also found it difficult to focus when she reached the part where Malala’s father was worrying about his daughter’s condition.
As she translated Malala’s story, Nishida began to question the Pakistani custom in which women who stay at home and do not work are held up as role models.
“I know that they have a different culture from Japan, but I found it difficult to understand,” she said.
This got her thinking about the issue of sex discrimination.
Nishida had translated about 50 books by now, but none had affected her as much as Malala’s memoir.
She decided to use the story as material in her part-time English classes, showing university students videos of Malala’s speech and news coverage from overseas.
“But the students did not show much interest. They treated it as someone else’s story,” Nishida said.
Earlier this month, she launched a fundraising campaign during a high school reunion in Nagoya with help from former classmate Nobuo Okui, 48, who became a doctor. Okui has been raising funds to provide education and health care for women.
“That was when I realized that there are ways for me to help Malala,” Nishida said.
“I can contribute by raising funds and talking about the issue,” she said. “The most important thing is to raise people’s awareness.”
The funds received will also be used to support the education of Nigerian girls and Syrian refugees.
This section, appearing Saturdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published on Nov. 9.
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