Malala Yousafzai, a 16-year-old educational campaigner from the Swat Valley in Pakistan, gave a speech to the UN last week. She was astonishingly assured, but I suppose when you have been shot in the head by the Taliban while on your school bus and survived, as Malala did, there’s not going to be much that worries you about a bunch of nodding dignitaries sitting behind desks. 

As Malala spoke in praise of equality of opportunity, her voice carried the spine-tingling undercurrent of fierce purpose, although her words were gentle. This small girl, swathed in pale pink, made a powerful impression simply by her presence. Her speech before the world’s media was the sweetest revenge upon her attackers.

The Taliban felt the sting, and responded in a manner which betrayed the blinkered confusion of its thinking. Adnan Rasheed, a prominent Pakistani Taliban commander, wrote Malala an open letter saying that when she was attacked “it was shocking for me, I wished it would never happened”, but that the Taliban believed she was “running a smearing campaign” against them and her writings were “provocative”. He refused to go into “this argument” of whether Malala “deserved to be killed or not” (as though it was a topic that one could legitimately debate – should one murder a 15-year-old schoolgirl for openly disagreeing with you, or not?). Then he advised that she return home, join an all-female madrassa, and immerse herself in study of “the book of Allah”. Aside from the brief rider of personal regret, the letter was, in effect, an extended exercise in blaming the victim, and then fantasising about how best to keep her quiet within the confines of the Taliban’s chosen ideology.

We haven’t heard the last of Malala. Nor have we heard the final word from her opponents, whether they be the Taliban or a proportion of middle-class Pakistanis who argue that she is being manipulated by the West. She will need continued courage, but, from what I have seen of her, she is too clever to let herself be used by anybody; growing up in a country mined with extremist politics has a way of rapidly sharpening the political survival instinct.

Shortly after watching Malala’s speech, however, I was immersed in a startlingly different vision of femininity, courtesy of The Apprentice final. I hadn’t been watching the series, and was only dimly aware of a few voices expressing surprise that the new look for aspiring businesswomen had a hefty dollop of lap-dancer chic. So the run-off between Luisa Zissman, 25, and Leah Totton, 24, came as something of a shock. Both of them, although naturally very attractive, looked as if they spent an enormous chunk of their net earnings on every costly extra the beauty parlour had to offer. Luisa, who had a pair of implants said she hated feminists, was promoting a wholesale cupcake business. Leah, who had trained as an A&E doctor, was backing a chain of cosmetic-surgery clinics offering Botox and fillers. –Telegraph