Tag Archives: Malala Yousufzai

Peacemaking more than prize, By Andrea W. Doray

Malala2Peacemaking is more than a prize

By Andrea W. Doray


With the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan became its youngest recipient at 17, sharing the award with Kailash Satyarthi of India. Shot in the head by the Taliban in October 2012 when a gunman boarded her school bus, Malala made a remarkable recovery in England, where she continues her advocacy for girls’ rights to education that began when she was only 11 years old.

I was deeply disappointed last year when Malala’s 2013 nomination did not result in the Peace Prize, that pre-eminent, political, and often controversial award handed out every year by the Norwegian Nobel Committee on behalf of the estate of its founder, Alfred Nobel. I was gratified this year for Malala’s well-deserved recognition, as well as for the spotlight this award has cast on both education and peace.

Not all efforts at peaceful activism can result in such prizes, of course, and this is the case — so far — for Fort Collins-headquartered Writing for Peace, a now-global organization that began as a local Young Writer’s Contest in 2011. Today, the nonprofit Writing for Peace shares an international stage with its high-profile advisory panel. Sponsorships from educational institutions such as Colgate University help produce an annual publication, “DoveTales: An International Journal of the Arts,” which attracts literary submissions from around the world, as well for its Young Writers Contest.

Writing for Peace helps cultivate empathy through education and creative writing to develop a foundation of compassion on which to build a more peaceful world. Its goal is to inspire and guide young writers so that their literary focus can be part of bringing nations closer to nonviolent conflict resolution and societies that value human rights.

Teachers all over the world are preparing their students for a relay race of unprecedented consequences. Our generation is passing them a heavy baton: a world in crisis. If we are to hope for a more peaceful world, we need future leaders with vision, clarity and empathy. The Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest challenges these students — including contest winners from South Korea, Vietnam and Nigeria, as well as the U.S. — to develop global and cultural awareness while refining their writing skills.

Among the Writing for Peace advisory panel members are poets, novelists, memoirists and essayists — artists such as Sam Hamill, who founded Poets Against The War, and Karachi-born Syed Azfar Ali Rizvi, now a Toronto-based documentary filmmaker who survived ethnic cleansing as a child in Pakistan. Young Writers Contest judges are no slouches either, including Guggenheim Fellowship winner Antonya Nelson and New York Times best-selling author Steve Almond.

Yet, as impressive as this may be, it’s work with young people that drives the mission of Writing for Peace. The first Young Writers Contest in 2012 resulted in five entries from U.S. students. By 2014, Writing for Peace has received submissions from students in 24 countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Great Britain and the Netherlands, as well as Bangladesh, Macedonia, the Maldives, Malaysia and the Philippines.

This impact on young people around the world is reflected in the words of Kasturi Panajady, 15, from Karnataka, India, “Since Writing for Peace, I have become bolder in terms of sharing my work.” Jordan Dalton, 16, from Indiana, said, “I’ve come to realize that my work really can make a difference in the world.”

Although it’s not likely that Writing for Peace will be nominated for a Nobel Prize (yet), such activist efforts at empathy through education prove that peacemaking is more than a prize. As Dalton puts it: “Words have the power to spread awareness, hope, and inspiration to people who would have otherwise despaired.”

[This article first appeared in the Denver Post on October 18, 2014.]

Andrea Doray, Writing for Peace Board MemberAbout Andrea W. Doray

Andrea W. Doray (a.doray@andreadoray.com) is a communication consultant, writer and editor, and is a youth writing instructor at Lighthouse Writers Workshop. She serves on the Board of Directors for Writing for Peace. Learn more about her work here.


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Recommended Reading From Adviser Dr. Margaret Flowers:

Dr. Margaret Flowers, Writing for Peace AdviserManaged Democracy, Expendable People

“As the elections draw near, the plutocracy and crisis of democracy become more visible. ”

Stay abreast of Climate Change and human rights activism, and learn where you can make a difference.

DoveTales Call for Submissions

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceDoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts, is accepting submissions for our 2015 “Nature” edition. Read our guidelines and submit here.


Enter Our 2015 Young Writers Contest 

2013 Writing for Peace Young Writers ContestHelp spread the word! Go to www.writingforpeace.org to meet our previous winners and learn about our prestigious panel of judges: Antonya Nelson, fiction; Stephen Kuusisto, poetry; and Steve Almond, nonfiction. Read the full guidelines here.


Your Library Isn’t Complete Without DoveTales!

2014 DoveTales, "Contrast" EditionThe 2014 DoveTales, “Contrast” Edition is now available for purchase. The “Contrast” edition includes the beautiful black and white photography from Writing for Peace Artist-in-Residence, Paula Dawn Lietz, as well as the 2013 Young Writers Contest winners, and the following contributors:

Jordi Alonso, Cassandra Arnold, Maggie Bàra, Henry Braun, Lorraine Caputo, William Cass, Lorraine Currelley, Colin Dodds, John Garmon, Diane Giardi, Mark Goad, Veronica Golos, Sam Hamill, Dawnell Harrison, D. Iasevoli, Ed.D, Allan M. Jalon, Shelley Kahn, Richard Krawiec, Paula Dawn Lietz, Cory Lockhart, Shannon K. Lockhart, Veronica Marshall, Sandra McGarry, Iwona Partyka, Sy Roth, Andrew Sacks, Carol Smallwood, Julia Stein, Samantha Peters Terrell, Bänoo Zan


Writing for Peace Granted 501 (c) 3 Federal Nonprofit Status

What does 501(c)3 status mean for Writing for Peace? Well, some things will not change; our administration will continue to be board operated and volunteer based. That means 100% of contributions go directly towards the considerable costs of publishing, maintaining our website, shipping DoveTales journals and participation certificates to contributors and young writers in 24 countries, and providing modest prizes to our contest winners. We are grateful for the support of generous donors and the Colgate University Research Council.

Here’s what will change: Your donations can now be deducted from your Federal income tax! For those who chose to support us before that was the case, we are deeply moved by your belief in us, and we are so happy to finally be able to say your contribution is a deduction. For your records, our Federal Tax ID Number is 45-2968027.

If you’re a believer in Writing for Peace, we hope you’ll consider donating to support a simple mission with a profound affect on the lives of our young writers. You can make your contributions here.

As Jordan Dalton (16), put it:

Jordan Dalton, 2013 Fiction, First Place“Since writing my entry for Writing for Peace, I’ve come to realize that my work really can make a difference in the world. Words have the power to spread awareness, hope, and inspiration to people who would have otherwise despaired. We all have the ability to create, and create in the name of beauty and change. I can only hope one day to spend my life doing just that.”

Copyright © 2014 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.


Malala Yousafzai’s Journey to the UN, by Alexandra Kinias

Malala Yousafzai’s Journey to the UN

by Alexandra Kinias

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is a breath of fresh air in an environment polluted with gunpowder and radicalism. She is a spring blossom growing in a field of thorny bushes, only to be injured by their needles. In October 2012, on her way back from school, Malala’s school bus was ambushed by the Taliban. She was shot with one bullet, which went through her head, neck, and ended in her shoulder. The young girl was left to die, together with two of her friends who were also shot on site. She was fifteen years old.

Though Malala was not the first to be assaulted by this terrorist group, she was specifically targeted in this tragic attack that was condemned worldwide. Many other girls face the same fate together with their teachers in sporadic attacks around Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan where the Taliban influence dominates. The girls’ only crime was going to school.

Malala’s journey to recover from her brain injuries was remarkable, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise. The young girl has demonstrated, throughout her life, nothing but strength, resilience and courage.

Growing up in the Swat province in Pakistan, Malala had experienced the Taliban’s rule first hand. A smart young student, in 2009, at the age of 12, she wrote for a BBC blog under a pseudo name about her experience living under the Taliban during the battle of Swat. As the war intensified, her family was dispersed from their hometown and Malala ended up living in a refugee camp for a few months. Later that year, after her family reunited at the end of the war, she returned home only to find that the Taliban had closed the girls’ schools. Inspired by her father’s activism in political life, Malala committed herself to become a politician and an activist for girl’s rights. In the documentary for the NYTimes, Class Dismissed, she explained why she wanted to be involved in the political life, “I have a new dream … I must be a politician to save this country. There are so many crises in our country. I want to remove these crises.”

By the end of 2009, she had received wide international exposure and began to publicly advocate for female education. She brought the world’s attention to the critical situation of girl’s education in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In her speeches, she bravely condemned the rule of the Taliban and demanded the right of girls to go to school. After receiving the National Youth Peace Prize in Pakistan, her name received wider recognition, but that came with a price: her life was in peril. At the age of 12, Malala was receiving death threats from the Taliban. But in defiance of them, she didn’t deter from the active role and the course of life she had set for herself. As the death threats failed to silence her, the Taliban leaders unanimously agreed to kill her in a meeting they held in the summer of 2012.

The Pakistani Taliban justified their failed assassination attempt by claiming Malala was the symbol of the infidels and obscenity, and announced that, if she survived, the group would target her again. They blamed her father for encouraging her to attack the Taliban in her speeches. According to the Taliban, Malala’s defending her right and the right of girls to go to school was propaganda against Islam, but the truth of the matter is that the Taliban view women’s education as a direct threat to them and what they represent. Malala was shot in the head. They wanted to blow her brain out. That’s exactly what the Taliban want; to rob women their right and privilege to think. Taliban fear the education of women. With girl’s education they will lose their control and dominance over them, this control that only thrives with ignorance.

After the recovery from this reprehensible attack, Malala emerged stronger and more resilient than ever. On July 12, 2013, on her sixteenth birthday, she delivered a speech to the UN that was viewed by millions of people worldwide. On the event that was dubbed as Malala Day, she was draped with the shawl of the late Benazir Buhto, the Pakistani politician who was also assassinated by another radical group. Malala captivated hearts with her speech and received multiple standing ovations as she delivered her powerful statement that incited peace, forgiveness, courage and strength. Her speech to the UN was not just a blow to the terrorists who wanted to silence her, but also a reminder of which side the world is standing. The battle between darkness and light is long and fierce. Even though the weapons of the darkness are more deadly, but as Malala said in her speech, “Pens are mightier than guns.”

The aspiring young woman is setting an example of hope and determination. She is a role model of defiance for all the girls who are battling to go to school under inhumane conditions, and bullets. Malala believes that education is the only hope for a better future and she is determined to fight for every child’s right for education.“So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution. Education first,” Malala said.

To view Malala’s Speech at the UN, click here.

Reprinted with permission from “Silenced Voices, Wasted Lives.”

Alexandra Kinias, Writing for Peace AdviserAbout Alexandra Kinias

Born and raised in Egypt, Alexandra Kinias graduated as a Mechanical Engineer in 1987. She pursued a career overseas with a multinational corporation that built power distribution plants on the Caribbean Island of Antigua and Barbuda.  She moved to America in 1995 and worked for a company that did business in the Middle East and Europe. In American, Alexandra began her career as a writer. She studied screenplay and creative writing. A screenplay writer, novelist and a photographer. Her passion for movies, books, art and extensive world traveling is translated in her writing and photography. She co-wrote the story of the movie Cairo Exit, censored in Egypt, yet received international recognition and won best non-European film in the European Independent Film festival.

She is an advocate for women’s rights. Her blog Silenced Voices, Wasted lives is dedicated to women’s issues in general and women in the Middle East in particular. Her published fiction novel Black Tulips takes place between Egypt and the USA. Black Tulips reveals the hardships that women living in male dominant societies are exposed to. Her articles are published in Kalimat magazine, a North American publication about the Arab region. Alexandra lives with her husband in Scottsdale, AZ and she is working on her non-fiction book Silenced Voices, a collage of her articles about women’s issues. Learn more about Alexandra Kinias and her work here.

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Writing for Peace Young Writers' Contest2014 Young Writers Contest

The Writing for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest deadline is March 1st, 2014. Our prestigious Judges Panel includes Robin Black, fiction; Dinty W. Moore, nonfiction; and David Mason, poetry. Submission guidelines here.

DoveTales Call for Submissions

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceWriting for Peace is accepting submissions for our 2014 Issue of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. The theme of our second journal is contrast. Check out our submission guidelines here.

Purchase our 2013 “Occupied” Issue here.

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.


International Day of the Girl, by Andrea W. Doray

Without Us, the International Day of the Girl is Just an Ideal 

Andrea W. Doray

 Andrea Doray, Writing for Peace Board MemberOctober 11 this year was the first “International Day of the Girl.”

Two days before that, 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai was shot in the head in an assassination attempt by the Taliban.

And four days before that, 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway was abducted from her Westminster, Colorado, neighborhood, to be found murdered a week later.

Malala—who has inspired people around the world with her public stand against the Taliban’s ban on education for girls—is recovering in a hospital in Britain.

Jessica—who united a community in its search for her, and united a nation in its support of her family—did not survive.

The ideals of the International Day of the Girl…

What happened to Malala and Jessica is in stark contrast to the ideals of the International Day of the girl, adopted by the United Nations to recognize girls’ rights and to create awareness of the unique challenges girls face around the world.

Other organizations, in celebrating the International Day of the Girl, have said that, “When girls have the opportunity to be educated…society as a whole benefits.”

And both Malala and Jessica loved school. One, Jessica, was on her way to school when she disappeared. The other, Malala, was on her way home from school when she was shot by assassins sent from the Pakistani Taliban.

Tragically, it is our horror and disbelief that connect the 10-year-old from a quiet and nurturing Denver suburb with the 14-year-old from a village in northwestern Pakistan.

Both beloved by their families, both innocents, both children.

Both targeted, in part, for their gender.

An international travesty…

I believe that few of us would disagree that what happened to these girls is a travesty…a travesty against their youth, a travesty against their justice, a travesty against their right to exist.

And I believe that these two violent acts are violence against us, as well. When the world’s children are attacked, all of us are attacked…attacked to the very foundations of society.

Because anywhere girls are supported in reaching their potentials can be a society of secure futures for families and for communities, for nations and, by reasonable extension, the world.

In Colorado, USA, a program called “The Blossom Project” gathered proclamations from around the state to honor girls and hosted events to celebrate October 11.

The Blossom Project uses education to inspire high school girls to create visionary change, believing that young women play a critical role in the development of global civil society.

Some sobering statistics…

However, according to the National Women’s Law Center, one in four girls in America does not finish high school, and the Population Resource Bureau says that only 30% of girls worldwide are ever even enrolled in secondary school.

UNESCO—the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization—reports also that, by 2015, females will make up 64% of the world’s adult population who cannot read.

The ideals of the International Day of the Girl that help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm to improve the lives of girls are just that—ideals—without the attention and action of people like you and me. Contact Writing for Peace for ways to help.

In their honor…

Malala Yousufzai, when she recovers, may get the chance to continue her education, to reach her potential, to play her role in the development of global civil society.

Jessica Ridgeway will not.

Don’t both of these girls deserve our action, in their honor, to make sure that other young girls do?



Andrea W. Doray is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and humanist living in Arvada, CO. Learn more about Andrea here.



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DoveTales, a publication of Writing for Peace


Call for Submissions: Be a part of our first issue of DoveTales.  The Writing for Peace Literary Journal, DoveTales is accepting poetry, fiction, essays, photography, and art. The submission deadline is October 30th. Find Submission guidelines here.

2013 Young Writers Contest: Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction divisions, ages 13-19. Find guidelines here.

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