Malala Yousafzai is an inspiring young person who many women, girls, children and men look up to for the courage she has shown at a time of great adversity. She has literally put her life on the line and only gotten more courageous after facing a near-death experience.
Malala was recently interviewed on Netflix’s new show “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction” hosted by the legendary American talk show host David Letterman. She spoke about her life at Oxford, her cause and her experience with the fateful event that catapulted her to worldwide attention.
We, at MangoBaaz, had a chance to interview Malala about her experience with Mr. Letterman and about her life as THE Malala Yousafzai. Here’s what she said:
MangoBaaz: Let’s start with a topic that seems to unite Pakistanis across the spectrum: Cricket. You’ve talked about being a part in the cricket club at Oxford during your interview with Mr. Letterman, could you please tell us more about your experience at the club?
Malala: My whole family loves cricket. I grew up playing cricket in streets with my brothers and friends. My family loves attending matches. I am really happy that Peshawar Zalmi is doing so well in the PSL 2018. And watching cricket at Oxford and being in the cricket club reminds me of home, of my family — and it’s a lot of fun.
MangoBaaz: You’ve said that “Feminism” is a tricky word. Why do you think people fear the word “Feminism”?
Malala: Many people fear feminism because they don’t understand the definition — they think it’s about hating men. Feminism is just another word for equality. It means that women should have equal rights as men.
MangoBaaz: During a session in Davos, during the World Economic Forum, earlier this year, you said “we have to teach young boys how to be men”. Could you elaborate a little bit on how, specifically, we can try to accomplish that, according to you?
Malala: Teaching boys to be men is about making sure that, from a young age, we show boys that girls are equally capable and deserving of rights. Growing up, my father treated my brothers and I as equals. We all had to do well in school. We all had chores. We all played sports. My father — through his public activism and behavior at home — also aims to show my brothers that they share in the responsibility of advocating for a more equal world.
MangoBaaz: In your interview with Mr. Letterman you mentioned that you’ve become an Oxford tour guide for prospective students. What made you want to become an Oxford guide? Could you also share any interesting incidents that have stood out with regards to interactions with people as you’re taking them on a tour?
Malala: I wanted to be a tour guide because I am proud to attend this university and want to share my love for it with prospective students. The most interesting tour was the one with David Letterman, because he asked a lot of funny questions and cameras followed us around. Most of my tours are to students considering applying to Oxford University and also friends and family visiting me at the university.
MangoBaaz: You meet so many world leaders, celebrities and powerful people from all over the world — is there one person who has inspired you in ways no one else has?
Malala: My biggest inspiration is my father. He is an activist and has always campaigned against injustice. After the ban on girls’ education in Swat, I wanted to speak out for my right to learn. He encouraged me and told me to believe in the power of my voice. I continue to learn from him every day.
MangoBaaz: You have spoken often about your father and how he has helped you through every step of the way and empowered you to have a voice. Could you also tell us a little bit about your mother and your relationship with her?
Malala: My mother is so supportive and today I consider her a close friend. Like my father, she always encouraged me to go to school, speak out and pursue my dreams. She’s now pursuing her own education and I could not be more proud of her achievements.
MangoBaaz: You’ve recently funded a school in your home community as a way of “giving back”, could you elaborate about any other projects in Pakistan that you are part of?
Malala: When my father and I started Malala Fund, we hoped that one day we could support the work of other activists fighting for girls’ education. Through Malala Fund’s Gulmakai Network we’re investing in local activists in Pakistan who work directly with girls and are advocating for policies to help see every girl in school.
MangoBaaz: What’s something you miss the most about Pakistan?
Malala: I really miss my friends and family. But I also miss the landscape. When I woke up in the hospital in the UK, I looked outside and asked the doctors where are the mountains and rivers. Swat Valley is a paradise on Earth and I don’t think I fully appreciated its beauty until it wasn’t outside my window every day.
MangoBaaz: What’s the hardest thing about being a college student that you didn’t realize even a Nobel Prize couldn’t help with?
Malala: When I got to Oxford, it was a bit overwhelming. There are many interesting lectures I want to attend or student groups I want to join. But there is also so much schoolwork as fresher. Each class requires you to read seven or eight books and complete lots of essays. I really had to learn to manage my time.
MangoBaaz: In your 20 years, you’ve accomplished what many can’t even imagine accomplishing in 200 years’ time — so our question to you is, what do you want to do after graduating?
Malala: Life after graduation feels so far away. One thing I know for sure: I will continue campaigning for education with Malala Fund until every girl is free to learn and lead.
MangoBaaz: What’s one message you’d like to give to your fellow countrymen, especially all the women (young and old) who look up to how you’ve found an empowered voice?
Malala: Girls and women are leading movements for education and equality around the world. My message to women in Pakistan is to work hard for your dreams and to not be afraid to raise your voice. Remember that when you stand up, your sisterhood around the world stands with you.
Malala continues to be an inspiration, her dedication toward women and girls’ education around the world is nothing short of admirable. More power to you, Malala. Keep on doing you. We couldn’t be more proud.
Cover image via: Getty Images