“When Malala was born and for the first time … I went and looked into her eyes,” he says, “I [felt] extremely honored,” said Ziaddun Yousafzai. Unfortunately, this isn’t a view shared by the majority of people in many areas of the world,
“The story of a woman is a story of injustice, inequality, violence and exploitation. When a girl is born … she is not welcomed, neither by father nor by mother. At the age of five, when she should be going to school, she stays at home … When she turns 13, she is forbidden to leave her home without a male escort … She becomes the so-called honor of her father, brothers and her family. If she transgresses the code of that so-called honor, she could be killed.”
Malala was shot by a Taliban-sympathising-gunman in October 2012 as she attempted to get to school. The Taliban had outlawed all girls from attending school, but Yousafzai was adamant that Malala’s education wouldn’t stop.
The educator and advocate for women’s rights had asked his daughter if she wanted to write about her life as a 12-year-old girl studying under Taliban rule, after a request from a BBC journalist.
Malala bravely said yes, starting her campaign for education and women’s rights in 2007.
“She became a very famous, very popular young girl. Before that, she was my daughter, but now I’m her father,” Yousafzai says.
“This plight of millions of women could be changed if women and men think differently,” Yousafzai says — “if they can break a few norms of family and society, if they can abolish the discriminatory laws of the systems in their states that go against basic human rights of the women.”
Throughout her childhood, “Malala stood out, and she stood for the right of education,” Yousafzai says. “She spoke from every platform she could … and her voice was the most powerful voice, and it spread like a crescendo all around the world.”
“Dear brothers and sisters,” he ends, “We learn from her how to be resilient in the most difficult times … Despite being an icon for the rights of children and women, she is like any 16- year-old girl … People ask me what is special about my mentorship that has made Malala so bold and courageous, vocal and poised. I tell them, ‘Don’t ask me what I did. Ask me what I did not do. I did not clip her wings, and that’s all.”