Malala Yousafzai is an amazing young woman. Her story is so inspirational. Named for an Afghan folk heroine, the activist Pakistani teenager was shot in the face and left for dead by the Taliban in 2012 — but recovered and went on to speak out about the gross injustices in girls’ education in her country and around the world, winning the Nobel Peace Prize along the way. The Malala Fund, which she co-founded with her father Ziauddin Yousafzai, is building schools in Jordan, Pakistan and Lebanon.
Last week I was given the opportunity to be on a group phone interview with Malala, which was an honor. It was about as close as one can come to greatness. It was also just a few weeks before the release of her new film, He Named Me Malala, a documentary that includes footage of her on the global circuit — in Lebanon as she opens up a school for girlsm in Nigeria with the families of kidnapped girls, on the Syrian border with refugees — and at home in London. I saw it with my 12 year-old daughter and I can’t speak highly of it enough.
As my daughter and I listened to her on the 25-minute conversation, we were inspired. Her optimism and zest for life are infectious. It is her father’s pronoun that is referred to in the film’s title; Ziauddin raised Malala to have confidence and speak out hence He Named Me Malala.
Here were some memorable quotes from the call:
On inspiring young girls as advocates:
We need more and more girls to come out and speak out.
When everyone is quiet, that is the time to stand up and speak out when it’s necessary.
It is important to know your responsibility and believe in yourself.
It’s important for girls to believe in themselves. There is no limit.
On her Nobel Peace Prize:
This year was for children’s rights. The children won.
Her advice to parents:
Teach them to believe in themselves & their ability to move forward! Don’t clip their wings.
On the right to an education:
It’s every child’s right to have an education
She opened a school in Lebanon on her birthday: It was the best day of my life!
How to create change:
Change doesn’t come by itself, it’s we who bring it.
Don’t put extra borders in front of women. Make the path clear and they can just walk through it.
What can boys do? Get educated & get involved! Need boys to speak out on education for all.
To have my daughter hear all of these words out of an 18 year-old’s mouth was exhilarating and everything I’ve always wanted.
And the film. You must see it. And you must get everyone you know to see it. It will teach you and your children how one person can change the world. Fox Searchlight acquired the worldwide rights to He Named Me Malala. National Geographic is a partner in the film and is bringing it to remote places in the world where it typically wouldn’t be screened. In addition, it’s being translated into a number of languages. The good news is that a lot of people will see it — hopefully. People will witness a girl who turned her trauma into a miracle. Malala is definitely here in this world for a reason, but there are too many reasons to mention.
Wondering what you can do to make a difference and promote this wonderful, important film and Malala’s goal to educate all girls everywhere?
- See the film! It will play nationwide starting October 9th.
- With the film’s upcoming theatrical release, Change.org has launched a social action campaign that will fund middle and high school field trips to see the film and learn from Malala’s story. You can contribute to the Students Stand With Malala Screening Program and help reach the goal of inspiring students across the country with the story of Malala and her family, and lift up the issue of girls’ education globally. Funding is first come, first served based on the order in which teachers submit their projects. Find out more here.
- Donate to the Malala Fund to ensure that girls everywhere get an education. Your gift supports global advocacy efforts, funds girls’ secondary education projects in places like Pakistan, Nigeria, and Kenya, and helps Syrian Refugee girls get back to school.
- Get your voice heard by tweeting: We will not be silent. We will not be invisible. We are speaking out, setting our words on fire. Stand up. Stand now. Stand #withMalala
- Follow the film on Facebook. Tag all copy wih #HeNamedMeMalala.
Disclosure: I was not compensated to write this post but did partner up with We are Women Online to help promote it. All opinions (about the film and otherwise) are my own.