The Life Story of a Young Feminist, Malala Yousafzai

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Malala Yousafzai was born in Mingora, Pakistan to Ziauddin and Toor Pekai. Malala grew up poor despite the fact that her father owned multiple schools. Her father, Ziauddin, began multiple schools for girls so that women had the same chance at an education as men. Malala followed her father’s beliefs and became an advocate for women’s rights. Malala and I grew up in completely different worlds, but have similarities in our upbringings.

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Malala was raised in Swat Valley which is a part of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. Swat Valley used to be an independent state until after the Indian Independence, then became a part of Pakistan. Malala grew up in a shack in Mingora, due to the family’s low income. Despite the living conditions, the family always hosted people in their home and never gave the inclination that the shack bothered them. Malala’s childhood home and mine are opposites. Growing up I was fortunate to live in a brick home in a nice neighborhood. I never had to worry about money, electricity, water, or food growing up. Even though our physical homes were different, both of our families would always entertain guests. Malala speaks of how family and friends would always be entertained and fed in their little home. The same was true for me growing up. My family would always host cookouts and small gatherings with close family and friends.

Malala’s family were firm believers in women’s rights. This is significant due to the fact that they lived in an Islamic state where women are seen as no more than cooks and child bearers. Malala’s father, Ziauddin, was a strong advocate for women’s rights. He believed that women should be educated and treated as equals in society. Her father married out of love instead of social obligation, which was taboo in their area. Ziauddin also never hit Malala’s mother, Toor Pekai. Malala’s family did not treat her differently than a male. She was brought up to believe that she has a purpose outside of the home and can accomplish anything she wants in life. Other than the geographical location, Malala’s upbringing was similar to mine. My father has always advocated that I am not beneath a man. I was brought up to believe that I am no different from men. I can do anything and accomplish anything that a male does. I believe Malala and I were brought up to believe that being a female in a male dominated society is not a simple task. Though difficult it is not impossible, one must work hard to prove themselves and make it in this world.

One aspect of Malala’s life that I cannot describe as similar to mine, is her geographical location. Malala grew up in a rural Mid-Eastern location. When she was four the 9/11 attacks occurred, resulting in the destruction of the Twin Towers. After this event, her country became unsettled with many praising the attacks and the leader forming an alibi with America. When she was ten years old, Taliban leaders began to move into her town and take over power. Her father was against the Taliban movement and made efforts to speak against it. Soon the government sent out efforts to stop the Taliban. During this time, Malala would hear gunshots and explosions every night as they fought. I have never witnessed war on American soil and cannot begin to understand what Malala went through.

Malala’s upbringing was similar and vastly different than my own upbringing. We both were raised with supporting families that saw our true value. Main differences in our childhoods were our geographical location. Malala experienced war and corrupt power, whereas I have only seen such things on television. Malala is portrayed as a strong woman and I am interested to read the rest of her story.

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