"Hero's reception" awaits Pakistani teen back home

Malala Yousufzai, 14, was shot by the Taliban on a school bus for advocating for girls' education.
Malala Yousufzai, 14, was shot by the Taliban on a school bus for advocating for girls' education.
CBS News

(CBS News) Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani 15-year-old shot by the Taliban for advocating education for females, has come out of her coma and was able to stand Friday, in her hospital room in England.

She was described as looking bright and alert.

Word of that set off celebrations in Pakistan.

The daughter of the late Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto tweeted, "Miracles of today! Malala able to stand."

Malala's story "really has galvanized both that country and the world," says Gayle Lemmon, deputy director of the Women and Policy program of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the best-seller on life under the Taliban, "The Dressmaker of Khair Khana."

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"She's a symbol of so many other young girls you never meet who brave danger, acid attacks, the threat of poisoning every day just for the simple act of going into a classroom and sitting and learning," Lemmon continued. "You may able to shoot a 15-year-old girl but you can't kill an idea, and I think she has become only more powerful, a symbol of the fight to go to school every day."

Lemmon told "CBS This Morning: Saturday" co-hosts she doesn't expect Malala to cower in the face of Taliban threats to kill her. "Look," Lemmon said, "if they threatened her and she didn't give up before they shot her, you can imagine that, after they shot her, she's not going to be quiet. She said in 2009 that 'they cannot stop me.' And I cannot imagine now, that the word has actually been forced to pay attention to the fight of these brave young girls, who have really been armed only with backpacks in their struggle to go to school, that shoe' going to back down now."

When Malala returns home, after a long recovery and rehabilitation in England, "I think she will be greeted with a hero's reception because, really, there are so many young women who have the same story," Lemmon said. "You know, they fight all the time -- with the support of their fathers, just as Mala did. And yet, almost no one pays attention to their struggle until something this extreme and this awful really forces the world to pay attention to these homegrown role models.

"I have spent years interviewing women who braved real personal danger to set up living room classrooms and girls who braved their familys' security just to sit there. And a lot of times I'm asked, 'Is this a Western import or a foreign import?' The truth is, even when the world forgets these girls, they fight themselves for the right to go to stool. And I think what Mala's story has done is made it impossible to look away and impossible to forget about these girls' struggle."

But there has been progress, Lemmon says, at least in one nation in that part of the world.

"You know, in Afghanistan particularly, you really see a lot. In 2001, less than one percent of the country's girls were in school, and now close to 3 million are. And every day, they go out and battle all kinds of threats just to sit and learn. Their battle is really everyone's fight because, if you look at the world, 40 million of the 70 million children who aren't in school are in countries that are struggling against war, and there is no better correlation to predicting violence than education levels."

To see the entire interview, click on the video in the player above.