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The BoF Podcast | Malala Yousafzai on How Small Actions Can Drive Meaningful Change

The Nobel Peace Prize winner spoke with BoF’s Imran Amed about education and the evolution of her own activism at BoF VOICES 2022.
The BoF Podcast | Malala Yousafzai on How Small Actions Can Drive Meaningful Change

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Background:

Malala Yousafzai, the activist and founder of the Malala Fund, has always fought stereotypes and labels.

She says she no longer defines herself by the moment, at age 12, when she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman while riding the bus to school. Already an activist for girls’ education before the assassination attempt, that moment on the bus vaulted Yousafzai onto the global stage, where for a decade she has remained one of the most prominent and effective voices for gender equality.

Yousafzai says she welcomes the label of global activist in the fight for equality, as opposed to “the girl who was shot by the Taliban,” she said in a conversation with BoF’s founder and editor-in-chief Imran Amed at BoF VOICES 2022.

“Here I am today fighting for the rights of all the girls around the world,” says Yousafzai. “[So that] the 130 million girls out of school today can have access to safe, quality, free education.”

Finding this inner resilience has led her to global fame as she overcame restrictions not just on her own education but also on how she dressed. Referencing the protests seen across Iran and the Iranian diaspora, Yousafzai spoke about the need for freedom in dressing to liberate women to feel safe both in dictatorial states and in battling Western norms.

This week on The BoF Podcast, Yousafzai speaks about the development of her personal activism and how education is at the heart of resistance.

Key Insights:

  • Activism is not just about thought leaders with big personalities, or huge crowds of protestors. Yousafzai also believes in the power of small actions to make change. “Sometimes when we think of activism in our mind we think of great speeches, we see a huge crowd of people and there stands an inspiring leader … but it is small actions that [defines] activism overall,” says Yousafzai.
  • Education is a crucial resource to promote equality and secure opportunity for women. “[Education] is a key instrument in changing a lot of issues we were talking about, including inequality, climate change, poverty,” says Yousafzai. “Education is at the centre of all of this. To me what matters most is equality for everyone.”
  • The sensitive matter of whether or not women wear a hijab should be a choice of faith not an external mandate, says Yousafzai. “It’s not just telling women that they should dress a certain way, but it’s actually limiting them from opportunities,” says Yousafzai. “It’s limiting them from having access to spaces again. Like just leave us alone. Let us wear what we want.”

Additional Resources:

  • BoF VOICES 2022: Live Your Best Life: In the final session of BoF’s annual gathering, speakers from model Dennis Okwera and Coty chief Sue Y. Nabi to Nike’s Larry Miller and activist Malala Yousafzai reflected on their personal histories and inner powers.

Watch all of the BoF VOICES 2022 livestream sessions in full on demand.

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