Malala Yousafzai’s father, Ziauddin, has made an emotional appeal to Pakistani parents to give proper education to their daughters and to treat them in the same way as they treat their sons.
“Honour your daughters, they are human beings like your sons. And educate them, and you will have wonderful daughters, wonderful sisters and you will have a peaceful and prosperous society. Trust them, honour them and educate them. We have proverbs that say: As the father, so the son. Why not as the father, so the daughter?” he said.
Addressing a gathering of British Pakistanis at the Oxford Union, Mr. Yousafzai cited his daughter as an example of how education transformed the life of a little girl.
“Think of my daughter for example. Had she not been an educated girl, would she have become an icon? Not possible. Had she not been in a school, not been writing a blog for the BBC, she would have been a girl in oblivion,” he said.
The 15-year-old schoolgirl, who survived a murderous Taliban attack for promoting girls’ education, now studies at a British school in Birmingham.
Stressing the role of education in countries caught up in sectarian conflicts such as Pakistan, Mr. Yousafzai said: “Education is powerful in conflict zones where you have to speak the truth about the situation, and also in peaceful societies where you have a role to play for the promotion and benefit of those societies. And then one more thing which is important — education must be without discrimination. With my daughter I did one thing, only one thing: I honoured her as an individual. I respected her as a person.”
He appealed for tolerance and inter-faith harmony quoting a Pashtun saying which he translated as: “My friend is a Hindu and I am a Muslim — but to honour my Hindu friend I will seek the temple of the Hindu worshippers.”
A number of schoolchildren from Birmingham, where Ms. Malala lives, attended the event held as part of the National British-Pakistani Conference organised by an Oxford University undergraduate Suriyah Bi.