Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai has opened up about her struggles as a young activist, the role of men in women empowerment and absorbing the global fame.
She was in conversation with Bollywood actor-turned-author Twinkle Khanna as part of the virtual Tweak India Summit held recently.
Yousafzai, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, shared how achieving fame at a young age has been challenging.
“I didn’t really have anyone to guide me, so I had to learn everything myself,” she said. The Pakistani Nobel laureate said she was never a celebrity, so the fame and the support she got was quite different.
She said that for her it was more like being grateful for the support she was getting and then “if someone wants to take a picture with me, I am like why not?”
Yousufzai has been an advocate of women and children’s right to education since a young age. In October 2012, she came under attack by the Taliban in the Swat valley. Despite the Taliban’s influence in the valley back then, she continued supporting women education.
“Did you at any point realised the risk that you were taking while doing that,” Khanna asked her.
“To be honest, no, because we were all living in a risk,” she responded, referring to her childhood in the war-torn district.
“We were all living in a conflict. It is hard to explain that. If we did not speak out, nothing was going to change.”
Yousafzai also explained how her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, has been a source of empowerment in her life.
“My father was my inspiration. He had five sisters and none of them could go to school,” she recalled. “So he believed that education is empowerment for women. Like a feminist man in action, he would always pay full attention to what I had to say.”
She emphasised the role of men in women empowerment, saying, “Because that’s where the problem lies.”
Reiterating her point, Yousafzai said, “For a woman not to be able to get her education means that she’s more vulnerable to getting married at an early age, to sexual abuse or domestic violence, and becoming a mother when she herself is a child.
“It means that her dreams would be taken away from her and that was the worst life I could imagine,” she added.