Malala Yousafzai, who recently graduated from Oxford University, appeared in an online interview with former Bollywood actor Twinkle Khanna as part of a virtual Tweak India Summit that was organised to mark the actor-turned-author’s initiatives’ first anniversary.
The one-day summit featured women from various fields including Vidya Balan, Tahira Kashyap, Chetna Singh Gala, Sudha Murty, Revathi Roy among others.
She then reiterated how for a woman, to be deprived of education meant that she’d be vulnerable to early marriage, sexual abuse, domestic violence and becoming a mother when she herself was a child. “It means her dreams would be taken away from her and that was the worst life I could imagine.” The Nobel Peace Prize winner then recalled how that was the day she decided to start speaking out.
Malala also recalled the time she’d write blogs for the BBC anonymously, highlighting the situation, but why would she take that risk despite the death threats? “I never thought that I was taking a risk because we were already living in a risk, in a conflict. Every night I’d sleep in the fear of the Taliban, because they could just knock on your door and kill anyone,” she remarked.
Bewildered, Twinkle continued to reinstate how coming to that realisation, for an 11-year-old, had to be a quantum leap. “So there must’ve been someone in your life who guided you towards that space,” she asked. “My father was my inspiration,” responded Malala.
“He had five sisters and none of them could go to school. So he believed that education is empowerment for women. Like a feminist man in action, he would always pay full attention to what I said. He would tell all the elders to keep quiet when a child is speaking, instead of the other way around,” Malala recalled.
She continued to emphasise on how the role of men was crucial when it came to female empowerment. “The role of men is crucial for female empowerment, because that’s where the problem lies,” quipped Malala. “And he’s been making sure he proves that if you give a woman education, you not only help her but her whole community.”
Asked about the day she became the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the Sitara-e-Shujaat recipient hinted at her dedication to her own cause by pointing out how she was in school when she found out about her achievement, but refused to leave without finishing her lectures.
“My school’s deputy principal just walked into our class during my Chemistry lesson and took me out. I was worried. But she gave me the news and I was like, ‘Thankyou!’ Then she called an assembly and I gave a speech. But then I went back to my Physics class, I said I have to finish my school day and after school we did a press conference.”