Years after her own daughter became a global crusader for women’s education, Tor Pekai Yousafzai, the mother of Malala Yousafzai, has finally learned to read and write, and to speak a bit of English.
“She wants to learn. She wants to get an education. She goes to school five days a week. She does her homework." Malala, the 17-year old campaigner for girls’ education who was shot by the Taliban, said of her mother in an interview with New York Times on Tuesday about the release of the young readers’ edition of her book, “I Am Malala.”
Even as Malala became an advocate for educating girls, her own mother remained illiterate, though her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, ran a girls’ school in Pakistan, reports the UK-based daily.
But recently, her mother has been learning to read and write — and her husband has been helping more with domestic tasks, a new step even for a family that has devoted itself to expanding women’s opportunities in Pakistan and worldwide.
“My mother is now learning English, becoming independent, goes to see the doctor on her own, goes to the shops and markets on her own,” Malala said. “On the other hand, my father is now going towards the kitchen. He makes eggs. He cannot really do a lot of cooking, but he brings plates to the table, brings cups, puts jam and butter in those things. So he is getting better, the daily report.
“These things are very important for us, because in many countries, people think the kitchen is just a woman’s job,” she added, “and the man’s job is to go outside, earn money, and he’s going to control the family. So our family shows an example to the world of how things change with the help of awareness.”
Malala invited her mother, who has generally shied from the spotlight even as her daughter has become a global celebrity, to address the audience. Malala's mother rose, adjusted her veil to make sure it was covering her head, described her new language skills and how they had changed her life, and said a few words in English.