Malala Yousafzai talks culture, love and future plans

The activist opened up about wearing the headscarf, fight for women to seek education and marriage

Mahnoor Jalal

Mahnoor Jalal

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Pakistanis were overjoyed yesterday to find out that Malala Yousafzai had been selected as British Vogue’s July cover star, and released a candid interview as well as a photoshoot. The Pakistani activist who has advocated for women’s rights and equal access to education had posted the picture of the front cover of the magazine, and along side in the caption she wrote that she was thrilled that Vogue had selected her for this interview:

“Thrilled and humbled to be on the cover of @britishvogue! I know the power that a young girl carries in her heart when she has a vision and a mission – and I hope that every girl who sees this cover will know that she can change the world.”


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In the interview, Malala discussed her reasons for wearing the headscarf, and remarked that it was more than a symbol of her Muslim faith but also a representation of her Pashtun culture which was where she hailed from. She also opened up that she only wore the headscarf when she was outside, and not when she with her friends or at home:

“I wear it more when I’m outside and in public…At home, it’s fine. If I’m with friends, it’s fine…It’s a cultural symbol for us Pashtuns, so it represents where I come from. And Muslim girls or Pashtun girls or Pakistani girls, when we follow our traditional dress, we’re considered to be oppressed, or voiceless, or living under patriarchy. I want to tell everyone that you can have your own voice within your culture, and you can have equality in your culture.”

Coming on the topic of marriage and whether she ever saw herself settling down with someone, Malala said that she didn’t think so much about love even though most of her friends are finding partners and settling down with them, she wants to be sure that she trusts someone before choosing to commit to them completely:

“I’m slightly nervous…especially [in terms of] thinking about relationships. You know, on social media, everyone’s sharing their relationship stories, and you get worried…If you can trust someone or not, [and] how can you be sure.”

Malala further said that she didn’t want to think about marriage at the moment, since she was happy with her work and her life the way it was going:

“I still don’t understand why people have to get married. If you want to have a person in your life, why do you have to sign marriage papers, why can’t it just be a partnership?”

She laughs and tells the interviewer that her parents do wish for her to find someone and marry them, since her mother thinks marriage is beautiful and her father is already receiving proposals from men from Pakistan:

““The boy says that he has many acres of land and many houses and would love to marry me.”

But Malala truly wants to focus on her agenda on empowering women to seek education and improving the rate of gender equality around the world, and simply live with her family forever:

“Even until my second year of university I just thought, ‘I’m never going to get married, never going to have kids – just going to do my work. I’m going to be happy and live with my family forever. I didn’t realise that you’re not the same person all the time. You change as well and you’re growing.”

You can read the complete interview here