A Preface from Malala's Father

Ziauddin Yousafzai

It is the elder generation’s duty to teach children the universal human values of truth, fairness, justice and equality. For this purpose, we have two institutions: families and schools. Education, whether at home or in the classroom, has the power to promote acceptance of others' views and to challenge biases and bigotry.

In patriarchal societies, women are expected to be obedient. A good girl should be quiet, humble and submissive. She is told not to question her elders, even if she feels that they are wrong or unjust. As a father, I did not silence Malala’s voice. I encouraged her to ask questions and to demand answers. As a teacher, I also imparted these values to the students at my school. I taught my female students to unlearn the lesson of obedience. I taught the boys to unlearn the lesson of so-called pseudo-honor.

It is similarly the obligation of schools and universities to instill the principles of love, respect, dignity and universal humanism in their students. Girls and boys alike must learn to think critically, to stand up for what they believe is right and build an effective and healthy society. And these lessons are taught at schools through curriculum. Curricula teach young people how to be confident individuals and responsible citizens.

I Am Malala is a story about a young girl’s campaign for human rights, especially a woman’s right to education. The power of this story is that it is true. Truth, justice, forgiveness, and equality—these are the universal human values, and they are the lessons instilled in Malala’s book. I am, therefore, very pleased that the Malala Fund and the George Washington University have partnered to develop this resource guide to accompany I Am Malala.

The resource guide for educators will elevate Malala’s story from a news story to an inspiration for coming generations. It tells how a country’s power and politics can endanger its own citizens. It tells how a few people can misinterpret and misuse peaceful religions to distort their true message. It tells how women and children suffer due to conflicts. And it tells why millions of children are out of school.

People ask me, what is special about my parenting, which has made Malala so bold and so courageous and so vocal and so poised? I tell them, “Don't ask me what I did. Ask me what I did not do.”  I did not clip Malala's wings. Now Malala’s story will be shared in classrooms around the world. I hope that my daughter’s message will resonate with many future generations of our children and young people, and that they, too, will feel empowered to raise their voices and spread their wings.

Ziauddin Yousafzai