Today is Malala Day as designated by Gordon Brown and the UN. There’s also a petition doing the rounds to get this inspirational woman nominated for the Nobel peace prize. Coming just days after a bitterly fought US election and just weeks after Malala Yusufzai was shot in the head (and two classmates injured) for simply wanting to go to school, it’s a timely reminder of just where the “real war on women” is taking place.

There is no better place in the world right now to be a woman than in a liberal western democracy. Ask any Iranian or Saudi female not married to an oil sheikh. So when  Sandra Fluke and others say there’s a US “war on women” and crazy right-wing maniacs are the enemy, she’s denigrating the unutterable bravery of teens like Malala who run the risk of Taliban retribution every time they open a textbook and start reading.

Ms Fluke you may recall is the 30-year-old “student” who campaigned earlier this year for her college health care scheme to include contraception. The issue — along with others — became an amorphous mass of stuff with which to beat certain politicians — mostly on the Republican side. Granted there were some awful comments during the campaign that I’d like to think Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock will want to forget (but which sadly I suspect they’re proud of), but to persist with the “war on women” rhetoric even as Malala was being given life-saving treatment is plain nuts.

It is of course always dangerous when middle-aged blokes start pontificating about women’s sex lives but I don’t think I’m sticking my neck out too far by contending that contraception is not a “right”. And for the record the same goes for the guys — many have commented how unfair it is that men in the US are permitted a vascectomy on the public dime therefore why shouldn’t women get free condoms? Both are bad and in a country $16 trillion in debt a ridiculous indulgence. So when the Sandra Flukes of the world describe having to pay for contraceptions as an “offensive, obsolete relic of our past” in the same week that a teenager gets shot for simply wanting to go to school it leaves an unpleasant taste in all our mouths. The obsolete offensive stuff is not happening in America — it’s happening right now in the Af-Pak region where the Taliban have quite literally declared war on women. And even if the loons on the Republican party had their way the worst that could happen is some states would ban abortion and America’s women would have to shell out some small change for a pack of Trojan Twisters.

And as for the peace prize I say seize the moment & do it now. If Mr Barroso and the other elites of the EU had any idea of the concept of symbolism they would all be on a plane to Birmingham, UK tonight headed to the ward where Malala is recovering. The EU’s prize, awarded just two days after Malala was shot, is the worst case of lazy Swedish thinking since Abba mangled the lyrics to Fernando. That gold medal belongs in Swat not Brussels.




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