From Pakistan to Russia: A Tale of Two Activists

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From Pakistan to Russia: A Tale of Two Activists

By Amy Beeman

At a glance, it would be hard to see what recent Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and the Russian performance artist and activist, Pyotr Pavlensky have in common. Malala, as she is most commonly known, is a 17-year-old girl who survived attempted murder by the Taliban when she was only 14-years-old for speaking out against their belief and practice of preventing girls from being educated. Pavlensky is a 30-year-old man known for radical public displays of self-harming meant to symbolize the problems he sees within Russian politics, society and culture.

Yet, both of these people have singularly drawn attention to the issues they want to change by refusing to be silenced even though by protesting they risk their safety and freedom. Still, is change a likelihood in these notoriously oppressive nations?

Malala was a young girl who was articulate, thoughtful and brave. She just wanted the chance to continue to go to school, as was exemplified in the blogs she wrote around the age 11, the blogs that made her a target of the Taliban. She survived being shot in the head to emerge as the face of oppressed girls and children. Education isn