Malala's father writes about being a feminist
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Ziauddin Yousafzai, father of activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, shared his emergence as a feminist and his decision to challenge Pakistan's male-dominated society in a new op-ed published Friday.

In the piece for Time magazine, Yousafzai challenged men to to do more work toward gender equality, writing that fathers play a "crucial role" in the struggle for women's rights around the world.


Yousafzai detailed his coming of age in the northern Pakistani village of Shangla, where he said he was "surrounded by patriarchy."

"I had five sisters and a brother and I saw how we boys got better shoes, more clothes, and tastier cuts of chicken than the girls," he wrote.

"I saw how my mother couldn’t go out unescorted and, on documents like doctors’ prescriptions, was never referred to by her name – Maharo Bibi – but as mother of Ziauddin, or wife of Rohul Amin. And, worst of all, I saw how I got to go to school, while my sisters stayed home, crippling their future."

Yousafzai went on to say that his upbringing influenced his decision to raise an "egalitarian family, respecting each other as equal partners and raising our daughter Malala the same way we raised our sons, Khusal and Atal."

"I didn’t hear the word feminist until I was 45, after the attack on Malala led us to move to the city of Birmingham in the U.K. But it was feminism I had been trying to spread in my family, and in my community, for years," he wrote.

Yousafzai added that he believed fathers play a "crucial role" in the fight for gender equality.

"I believe fathers have a crucial role to play in the fight for women’s rights. Of course, when your rights are being violated — at home, at work, anywhere — your voice is the most powerful to challenge your oppression," he wrote.

"So women’s voices are the most important in feminism," he continued, adding: "But in patriarchal societies, a father’s voice is perhaps the next most important tool to galvanize change."

He went on to call male-dominated societies the result of "sheer stupidity," and added that fathers have a "great interest" in dismantling them.

"I am sure of one thing: patriarchy is sheer stupidity. Fathers have a great interest in dismantling it. And we as campaigners need to communicate that to them," he said.

His daughter, now a college student at Oxford University, was almost killed when she was attacked by the Taliban in 2012 over her refusal to stop attending school in her village in Pakistan, where local militants often enforce religious doctrines barring women from being educated.

Her subsequent activism for feminism and girls' rights to education around the world led to her receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. 

Ziauddin Yousafzai is the author of "Let Her Fly: A Father's Journey," a memoir about his fight for women's rights in Pakistan, as well as his relationship with his daughter.