Ziauddin Yousafzai, educator and social activist, delivered Tuesday’s forum address.
Yousafzai has spent most of his life fighting for international gender equality in education. He, along with his daughter Malala, founded the non-profit organization Malala Fund to support girls worldwide by challenging countries with policies that prevent girls from attending school and by supporting the training of female teachers.
“I want to see a world where every girl can choose her future, where every girl can learn and lead,” he said.
As a young boy, his father taught him that the indigenous knowledge found in nature and in their communities was open to everyone. However, Ziauddin noted the difference in formal education opportunities he had compared to what his sisters were offered.
“My parents had big, tall dreams for me. They wanted to see me [become] a successful person in the community. They told me stories of successful individuals,” Yousafzai said. “But for my five sisters, my parents only had one dream: to get them married as early as possible.”
Education transformed and empowered Yousafzai. Not only did his education help him personally, but it gave him the opportunity to push against the social norms and stand for the educational rights of women, including his daughter.
Yousafzai started a school to empower children of any gender within his community. This school taught more than math and science, he noted; it taught about respect and social change, and about standing up for yourself.
“I always tell people that when your rights are violated, you must raise your voice,” Yousafzai said. “Yours is the most powerful voice.”
Yousafzai also fought societal gender inequality by setting an example within his own home.
“I believe that family is the most powerful institution for bringing about any change,” he said. “We were not economically rich, but in terms of values, we were very rich. We believed in love, respect for everyone, compassion, empathy, tolerance. We believed in the beauty of our country, democracy. What I wanted, the change I started putting together, we made within the family from one generation to the next.”
His family and school were met with much opposition, however. When the Taliban began to occupy his land, they bombed 400 schools and banned women from schools and marketplaces.
With the support of her father, in response Malala spoke up. She started a blog and fought for the rights of 50,000 girls in her home of Swat Valley in Pakistan. In 2014, she became the youngest person to ever be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. She and her father, with their organization, Malala Fund, now advocate for the education of millions of girls around the globe.
“Every girl should have access to a free and quality education,” stated Ziauddin. “This kind of education brings change.”
Matthew Wickman, an English professor, will deliver the devotional address on December 1 at 11:05 a.m.
His remarks will be broadcast on BYUtv, BYUtv.org, Classical 89 FM (89.1 FM) and BYUradio (107.9 FM).