The man behind the passionate teen fighting for girls’ education, Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala’s father, is an educator; human rights campaigner and social activist.
The head of a school in Pakistani’s Swat Valley, a region rife with political violence, Ziauddin took great risks when he peacefully resisted the Taliban’s efforts to shut down schools and kept his own school open. Always a great believer in equal education for all, he raised his children to be strong and speak out to promote the rights of children to an education.
“You see personally as a father, I think that education is very important for all the daughters. I had five sisters and none of them could go to school.”
“Education is the only way for the emancipation of women. It is not simply for girls. It is not simply the learning of a few language skills or the learning of some skills for their professional life, but in reality, it is a way to their freedom. It’s a way to their independence. It’s a way to their individual integrity. And it’s a way to their life as a human being.”
In October 2012, his daughter Malala, at age of 15, was almost killed after Taliban gunmen tried to assassinate her on her way to school. She was targeted for her outspoken campaigning for girls’ rights to an education. Malala’s recovery was miraculous, and to this day she continues to fight for girls’ education.
The assassination attempt sparked a national and international outpouring of support for Malala, who was dubbed “the most famous teenager in the world.” United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown launched a UN petition in her name, demanding that all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015; it helped lead to the ratification of Pakistan’s first Right to Education Bill.
In 2014, when she was 17 years old, Malala was announced as the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to an education.
Ziauddin is the co-founder and serves as the Chairman of the Board for the Malala Fund. He also serves as the United Nations Special Advisor on Global Education and is the educational attache to the Pakistani Consulate in Birmingham, UK.
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