The Sales Tax Institute Book Club: I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot By the Taliban

Last month, the Sales Tax Institute staff focused on improving our understanding of the injustices surrounding the lack of education for girls around the world. Education is a tool that allows socioeconomic mobility and is a key element to escaping poverty. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused record breaking numbers of children to be absent from school. A disproportionate amount of these children are already the most vulnerable and marginalized (United Nations). I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot By the Taliban gave us a powerful glimpse into the education system in Pakistan from the perspective of an incredible young woman, Malala Yousafzai. Unfortunately, Pakistan isn’t the only country where there are challenges in the education systems.


Malala’s Story

Malala Yousafzai was born in 1997 and grew up in Mingora in the Swat Valley of Pakistan with her loving parents and siblings. She loved her home, her family, her friends, and her school. Unfortunately, her journey of ensuring that she received a proper education was far from easy, particularly when the Taliban regime took control of her valley. 

Malala’s father raised her to believe that she had every right to be educated, just like the boys in her community. Her father was an activist both for girls’ education and against the Taliban’s extremist behaviors. Malala’s father inspired her to become an activist herself. By the age of 12, she was speaking out publicly on behalf of girls and their education. However, her activism made her a target for the Taliban.

In 2012, Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban on the school bus. When the news broke, support for Malala came from across the world. Eventually, she was transferred to a hospital in Birmingham, England where she made a full recovery. 

Even after this trauma, she continued fighting for what she believed. Her passion for peace and girls’ education put her on a global stage and at age 17, she became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala’s story proves that just one person can make a difference. 

In 2014, Malala established the Malala Fund which is dedicated to ensuring girls and women have the opportunity to choose their future. The mission of the Malala Fund aligns with the mission and values of The Sales Tax Institute, and we have made a financial contribution to the fund to help them continue in their mission. We encourage all who are able and willing to join us in donating.


As individuals and as a company, what will we take away from this book? 

During our staff book club discussion, we covered some points that we’d like to share with you.

  1. Education provides opportunities for women to get out of situations such as abuse, hunger, poverty, and more. Therefore, providing secure and accessible education for women and girls across the world will help to alleviate these issues and allow them the opportunity to not just succeed but to survive.
  2. It is the job of people of privilege to fight for the right of education for all. In Pakistan, that meant men and especially men in powerful positions. In the United States today, that means those who are already receiving an education are responsible for fighting for those who don’t. It should not be left solely to people like Malala and her peers.
  3. Malala’s personal example of passion for educational justice and determination to help others demonstrates the power that just one voice has and its ability to influence many others in a globally impactful way. Change starts with each of us.
  4. We are privileged.  We live in a country that offers us incredible opportunities.  We have basic necessities like clean water, stable living environments, communication, and the ability to voice our beliefs without fear for our lives.  Reading about Malala’s life in her village reminds us that even in this generation there are areas in the world that are severely impoverished.  But even with these challenges, Malala became a beacon of hope not only in Pakistan but around the world. 
  5. Discrimination against women is a global issue.  There are varying degrees of not only discrimination but also submission of women.  In everything that she experienced as a girl through young adulthood (she is only 24 yrs old now!), Malala showed us courage and determination and sheer grit. She always focused on the positive and looked for ways to help others even as she was exposing the challenges of being female.  


If you’ve read I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot By the Taliban and have other thoughts or insights, we’d love to hear them. Email us here.

Next, the Sales Tax Institute will take on Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. We’d love to have you join us on our next journey. We encourage you to support your independent local bookstores. Our neighborhood bookstore is Sandmeyer’s Bookstore in historic Printer’s Row Chicago. Join us and support your own favorite local store!

Posted on May 27, 2021