Posted by: ginalazenby | October 13, 2014

Recognising Malala & the Power Men have to Create Change

P1010522 - Version 2What a joy to see Malala Yousafzai’s smiling face on the front covers of the newspapers this weekend. She has been an activist on behalf of girls’ rights to education since she was eleven years old.  Now, having survived an assassin’s bullet two years ago and still only a teenager studying at school, she has become the voice for at least 62 million voiceless girls all over the world and won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Interestingly she shared the prize with Kailash Satyarthi,  who has worked tirelessly against child slavery. Together they are powerful crusaders against the injustice suffered by children, both working to return childhood to children so they can study for a better life.
The Power Men have to Create Change
In fact, she could almost have shared the prize with her father. He is not just a proud parent watching his daughter on this global mission … he is very much part of the story for it was he who wanted her to be treated the same as a boy. Ziauddin Yousafzai seems to be an extraordinary man who has been a champion of education and in being determined for his daughter to benefit too  … obviously incredibly difficult in their Taliban-run region of Pakistan.

A lovely anecdote emerged in the Sunday Times yesterday. In a speech after winning the award, Malala thanked her father for “not clipping my wings”. He, more than anyone has been the fuel behind the fire of her passion to change the destiny of girls. Without him being willing to take risks to change the game in Pakistan, it would perhaps not have been possible at all.

Change on the home front as well as the world stage

Malala recounted to Christina Lamb, the co-author of her book “I am Malala”, about how she has been teasing her father. Apparently he travels the world speaking out for women’s rights and then expects Malala and her mother to do everything at home. She succeeded in getting him to make breakfast which he has now learnt to do and “is making a big deal of it” she laughed!  What a delightful insight into the family life of a global activist and so telling. There are so many patterns to break and many we can’t see. If you are a champion for a big cause then yes….. making small changes at the micro level of home life is all part of the shift … not just the speeches.

Another peak behind the scenes of a public life was given by Eleanor Mills writing in the Times yesterday. She noted that Miriam Gonzalez,  high-flying international lawyer and wife of the UK’s Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg apparently insists that he is home to read the bedtime story and take the children to school in the morning. Real hands-on co-parenting support from fathers is the only way for professional women to be mothers and still leverage their education as they aim for the top. Yes change has to happen in both the public sphere with men championing women .. appointing them to positions of influence, changing legislation … but it’s in the domestic sphere where the rubber hits the road and women need the support of their men in sharing responsibilities.

These are just three men who are champions for women and girls. Thank you for all you do guys.

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