is in a critical condition in a Pakistani hospital because a group of religious extremists decided that she was a danger to them. She is a fourteen year old girl who wanted an education. They say she was "westernising" the country.
The Taliban are not opposed to women and girls being educated - as long as the education fits in with their thinking - or so, they say. They want women who are prepared to be obedient and dutiful wives who will have many children. The preference is for male children over female children. All of them will, in the Taliban's idealistic view of the world, grow up as devout members of their extreme view of Islam and the men will continue to see to it that the rest of the world is "converted" to their way of thinking.
I met a Muslim friend in the supermarket yesterday. She spoke to me about Malala and broke down as she was doing so.
"It could be our daughter. She wants to be a doctor too."
I know her husband has expressed views about girls who want to go on to university. None of his sisters did. His father was opposed to it. He has been not opposed but perhaps wary of it until recently. He is concerned about what else his daughter might be exposed to at university. When he told me this once I gently suggested that medical students had almost no time to socialise and that the drugs and alcohol he was worried about were not something all students indulge in.
What has happened to Malala has almost completely changed his view about women and education. If his daughter gets accepted into medicone he will now support her. It is perhaps something good that has come out of the most appalling and sickening attack on one young girl and, through that, the rights of women everywhere.
I am aware though that there are still people in Australia, particularly those from some ethnic backgrounds, who do not see the education of women as being as important as the education of men. I know women who were not allowed to go to university, simply because they were women. I still know girls in that position. Their fathers simply withold their support. They do not see education as important. Their attitude can be summed up as,
"You'll get married and have children and it will all get wasted."
Malala may not survive. Even if she does she may not be the highly intelligent and articulate young girl she was before she was shot. I hope she survives and recovers but I know that it may not happen.
Her situation however should serve to educate the rest of us. Education is only wasted if you do not use it - and there are many ways to use an education.