“Every Girl’s Right” Student Writing Lesson

Describe how you would feel if you were forcibly banned from going to school tomorrow—and indefinitely. What would you do?

Students will read and respond to the YES! Magazine article, “Standing With Malala: Meet the Teenagers Who Survived the Taliban and Kept Going to School.” From 2009-2012 the Taliban forcefully banned girls in the Swat Valley of Pakistan from going to school. In an interview with Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz, the two friends of Malala who were also shot on the bus tell the story of the traumatic experience that emboldened them to stand up for the right of every girl to an education.  

Download lesson as a PDF

YES! Magazine Article and Writing Prompt

Read the YES! Magazine interview with Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz, “Standing With Malala: Meet the Teenagers Who Survived the Taliban and Kept Going to School.

Writing Prompt:

The Taliban prohibited Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz from going to their schools in Pakistan because they were girls. No books, no teachers, no school friends, no future. But that didn’t stop them. Now, they attend high school in Wales, and are standing up for a girl’s fundamental right to free, safe, quality education. Worldwide, over 60 million girls are currently prevented from going to school.

Describe how you would feel if you were forcibly banned from going to school tomorrow—and indefinitely. What would you do?

Writing Guidelines

The writing guidelines below are intended to be just that—a guide. Please adapt to fit your curriculum.

  • Provide an original essay title
  • Reference the article
  • Limit the essay to no more than 700 words
  • Pay attention to grammar and organization
  • Be original. provide personal examples and insights
  • Demonstrate clarity of content and ideas

This writing exercise meets several Common Core State Standards for grades 6-12, including W. 9-10.3 and W. 9-10.14 for Writing, and RI. 9-10 and RI. 9-10.2 for Reading: Informational Text.*

*This standard applies to other grade levels. “9-10” is used as an examples.

Evaluation Rubric

Sample Essays

The essays below were selected as winners for the Winter 2016 Student Writing Competition. Please use them as sample essays or mentor text. The ideas, structure, and writing style of these essays may provide inspiration for your own students’ writing—and an excellent platform for analysis and discussion.

To Say Nah by Dakota Cline, Grade 8

Read Dakota’s essay about the one thing he, Malala, and Rosa Parks all share: the drive to rebel.

Deprived of a Brain by Edward Ramirez, Grade 9

Read Edward’s essay about experiencing racism in school and his determination to continue learning despite the hurtful taunts and injustice.

Education: Every Girl’s Haq (Right) To Make Her Voice Heard by Hamna Khalid, High School Junior

Read Hamna’s essay about amplifying the voices of those who have been less fortunate than her to receive a good education.

A Mother’s Motivation by Kelsi Belcher, Lansing Community College

Read Kelsi’s essay about how struggles through her adolescence presented her with a precious opportunity.

We Want to Hear From You! 

How do you see this lesson fitting in your curriculum? Already tried it? Tell us—and other teachers—how the lesson worked for you and your students

Please leave your comments below, including what grade you teach.

Inspiration in Your Inbox

Get the free daily newsletter from YES! Magazine:
Stories of people creating a better world to inspire you and your students.

Sign Up