Pakistan: PEN International’s Women Writers Committee condemns violent attack on young education activist Malala Yousafzai

The Women Writers Committee of PEN International – the world’s leading association of writers which seeks to promote literature and defend freedom of expression – wishes to express its outrage at the brutal attack of 14 year old blogger and education activist Malala Yousafzai by Taliban gunmen. Yousafzai was shot in the head in an assassination attempt on 9 October 2012 as she was returning home from school in the Swat region of Northern Pakistan.

It is believed that the attack was the result of Yousafzai’s ongoing campaigning for girls’ education rights. Under the pen-name Gul Makai, Malala reached prominence aged 11 when she started writing a diary for BBC Urdu about life under the Taliban. Among other issues her blog detailed how the Taliban shut down girls’ schools in the Swat region.

PEN International’s Women Writers Committee condemns this cowardly attack. We call upon the Pakistani government and the international community to intensify efforts to protect female Pakistani students and ensure that girls have full and equal access to education.

We believe that education is a fundamental right of every citizen and denounce the Taliban’s prevention of girls accessing their basic right to be educated .We stand in solidarity with the people of Pakistan who took to the streets last Sunday to condemn the Taliban’s actions.

The PEN International Women Writers Committee would also like to declare our support for petition launched by the UN’s Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown in support of Malala. This petition calls on Pakistan “to ensure that every girl like Malala has the chance to go to school,” and calls on the international community to ensure all children have access to education by the end of 2015.

For more information and to sign-up in support please see

Ekbal Baraka
Chair, PEN International Women Writers Committee