Ziauddin Yousafzai was a feminist long before his daughter, Malala, got shot in the head by the Taliban simply for wanting to go to school.
In fact, Malala’s dad adopted a feminist worldview even before he started his family, and raised his children with egalatarian values, he wrote in an op-ed for Time last week.
The father of the youngest ever Nobel Prize winner used the platform to call for an end to patriarchies and urged fathers everywhere to join the effort. To him, dismantling a misogynistic system is a matter of common sense.
“I am sure of one thing: patriarchy is sheer stupidity,” Yousafzai wrote. “Fathers have a great interest in dismantling it. And we as campaigners need to communicate that to them.”
In the op-ed, Yousafzai describes the deforming effects of patriarchy. He says that it forces men to dedicate their lives to policing women’s behavior, while squandering the potential of girls everywhere.
Growing up in Pakistan, Yousafzai wrote that he watched his brothers receive preferential treatment and opportunities throughout his life, while his sisters got literal and symbolic scraps. He said that this sort of inequality can be found in countries around the world.
“Even in countries like the US and the UK, while girls are educated and often have the same opportunities as boys, issues like pay inequality, sexual harassment and misogyny continue to damage girls’ careers and personal lives,” Yousafzai wrote. “Unhappiness breeds unhappiness.”
For most of his life, Yousafzai championed egalitarian values alongside his wife, but he was otherwise alone in his pursuit until his daughter Malala became one of the world’s foremost feminists.
Malala’s fame and influence skyrocketed after surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban, but she was as fiercely determined to secure equal rights for women before winning the Nobel Prize.
These days, Malala tirelessly campaigns for women’s and human rights.
She’s written a feminist children’s book and one day wants to shatter the ultimate glass ceiling by becoming Pakistan’s prime minister. Her organization, the Malala Fund, is seeking to ensure all girls have access to an education.
Malala’s father is doing what he can to support his daughter’s advocacy work, and remains a staunch feminist.
He hopes that his daughter’s success will inspire other fathers to follow in his footsteps.