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Memoir and Film about Gender Inequality

Although experienced in vastly different contexts, contemporary Pakistan and 1960s Britain, Malala Yousafzai’s memoir, ‘I am Malala,’ co-authored by Christina Lamb and Nigel Cole’s film, ‘Made in Dagenham,’ (2010) both explore the ingrained gender inequality of the respective societies and the dogged determination of the protagonists to promote large-scale social change in order to address this inequality. Without the courage and strength of the two protagonist characters in Rita O’Grady and Malala Yousafzai to speak out their fight for justice towards change would most likely of never occurred.

The value of advocating for change is exemplified through the importance of support when campaigning for change, in addition courage and motivation are essential if one is to to attempt to address change. However change can sometimes be a gradual process requiring an ability to overcome adversity

Speaking out from tradition is often difficult to achieve alone, both texts explore how having a strong support system can drive normal people to address the need for change.

The two characters of Malala Yousafzai and Rita O’Grady are together about to bring about their desire to bring about change for girls and women in the in society. However moments of doubt and confusion allow for the need of support through others. Support is shown throughout “Made in Dagenham” when Albert explains the struggle of his single mother through short anecdotes which inspires Rita and gives her the motivation that she needed to continue to speak out on her campaign towards change. “There was never any question that it could be any different”.

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Rita O’Grady also has to have a very heavy reliance on her husband Eddie to embrace further parental responsibilities during her campaign for change. “I gotta go pick up the kids,” much to the amusement of Eddie’s friends, “Yeah, yeah get your apron on.” During the campaign for equal pay for women, Rita’s relationships are often tested and Eddie’s unlaundered shirt comes to symbolise her struggle to balance her home life with the demands of the campaign. In contrast to this Malala Yousafzai also heavily relies on her support network in most cases her father during moments of doubt and confusion to draw strength to continue advocating for change. Ziauddin encouraged Malala to speak her own truth and to speak for the voiceless just as he did, “I had been his comrade in arms for so long.” Malala often speaks out about how important it is to speak out against those trying to silence the opposing view. “We realise the importance of our voices only when we are silenced” Malala and Rita look for guidance from those who have gone before them as they enter the political world, which was previously unfamiliar to them both.

Courage and motivation are essential if one is to to attempt to address change. In the case of Malala Yousafzai it was her own mother’s lack of education which contributed to Malala’s desire to see greater opportunities for girls and women, “her first lesson since she had left school age six,” Malala firmly believes that “education is a right that everyone should be allowed to indulge in” Her passion towards the need and right for education drives Malala to speak out “education is not eastern nor western, it is human”. “We have fifty million illiterate adults, two-thirds of whom are women, like my own mother. Despite Toor Pekai’s fears for Malala’s and Ziauddin’s safety as the Taliban threats increased, she did not allow these fears to impede their fight for justice, “God, I entrust her to you.” It was a remarkable feat that at such a young age Malala was able to realise how one person speaking out against oppression is a powerful thing. This mindset allowed Malala to always be motivated as if she remained silent then there would be no change. “When the world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful”. In comparison “Made in Dagenham’ Rita uses her own struggles and hardships to bring upon motivation to speak out for change. This is highlighted when Rita speaks out against Ford’s injustice towards women. “We’re on the lowest rate of the entire bleeding factory”. Rita receives added motivation to address change from those around her including 31 year old Lisa Burnett who shares her sense of injustice due to her gender “I’m Lisa Burnett, I’m 31 years old and I have a first class honours degree from one of the finest universities in the world, and my husband treats me like I’m a fool” Through support from those around her Rita was able to build the courage necessary to campaign for change. Much of the success in their fight for justice can be attributed to Malala and Rita’s courage, motivation and sense of purpose as they overcame the many challenges they encountered along their respective journeys.

Speaking out for change can sometimes be a gradual process requiring an ability to overcome adversity. It is imperative to note that the consequences of speaking out were a lot more threatening in the case of Malala then it was to Rita. In the process of trying to overcome adversity and fight for justice. Malala had to abandon her home “To be torn from the country that you love is not something to wish on anyone.” She describes her desire to return home and emphasises the sacrifices that Malala and her family have had to make in order to campaign for girls’ rights. A Tapey was written which reflects the hardship that the Yousafzai family experienced as they were forced to leave their beloved Swat Valley, possible forever, for a new life in Birmingham, England. A foreign, unfamiliar land, a different language, different customs. “O Wayferer! Rest your head on the stony cobblestone. It is a foreign land – noth the city of your kings!”. In contrast to this within the film “Made in Dagenham” there were many times where adversity had to be overcome in the form of struggle and hardship even though it was not to the extent experienced during “I am Malala”. Women are often belittled by men in general an example of this was when Goran initially respects Rita’a protest but then attacks her letting her know that women are not the breadwinners. Rita along with other ford female factory workers had to cope with constant acts of sexism as “Made in Dagenham” does not shy away from depicting the financial hardships and social ructions that striking causes. Strikes inevitably involve making short-term sacrifices for winning longer term goals and we saw this as the women suffered financially as well as emotionally. Women were mistreated.

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Memoir and Film about Gender Inequality. (2019, Dec 03). Retrieved from

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