“I am Malala” arrived at my home like a pleasant surprise three years ago. Like the best things in life, it was an unexpected gift but needed. At that time, my daughter was an infant, my son was a toddler, and I was a stay-home mom trying to figure it out what kind of mother I wanted to be. Sent by fate, the memoir of this brave girl who has fought against all possibilities not only left my heart full of hope but also pointed my mind into what kind of mother I wanted to be.
“I was a girl in a land where rifles are fired in celebration of a son, while daughters are hidden away behind a curtain…”
The story of Malala is, by all means, fascinating and full of extremes. She was born in Pakistan a beautiful country, but into a culture that does not value the role of girls and women outside their homes. Her family was poor but with the firm purpose to dedicate their lives to Education. She was just a little girl when was targeted and attacked by a dominant terrorist group. Against all the odds Malala has stood up for her rights and is winning the battle.
This story indeed tells a lot about Malala’s character. However, what spoke to me the most, was the role of her dad in the molding of her nature. The main reason she has been able to avoid her cultural destiny is that her father decided she would not be hidden away, that she will be free of what society was expecting from her and for him as well. That is a compelling testimony of the impact our role as parents have in the destiny of our kids and is the kind of example I want to follow.
I want to be “Malala’s dad” kind of mom
The three lessons I learned from Ziauddin Yousafzai, and that I am passing to my children are:
- Expectations are high. Malala was named after an Afghan heroine, and I think that is a beautiful metaphor as what we should communicate to our kids: They are the heroes of their stories. They should know that no matter the context we expect the very best from them and that we will help them become the best version of themselves.
- Education is important. Education was central to the Yousafzai family and had a direct impact on Malala’s self-esteem. She knows her value in the world because she had seen a world of possibilities through her formation. I want Leman and Alicia to feel empowered to what the future throws their ways and to have the tools to change their context in case it is necessary.
- Be a feminist. Ziauddin was over all the things a feminist. He treated his wife as a partner and his daughter as a blessing, even when his culture taught him differently. This for me is a continuing struggle because I see every day how the message my kids receive have an implicit gender bias and feminism is associated with women that do not need men. Nothing farther away from the real power of understanding the potential of equality.
This book woke up a lot of feelings and thoughts inside of me. I realized that as a mother is my responsibility to teach my kids not only to make their beds but also to believe that no matter the circumstances they were born in, their future is in their hands and the decisions that they will make.
If you want to feel inspired today, read I am Malala and let me know what sparks on you and if you have extra time you can always support the Malala Fund to support girls education or the He for She campaign to impulse gender equality.