He Named Me Malala – A Father’s Perspective

He Named Me Malala

HE NAMED ME MALALA is a feature documentary that will debut commercial-free on Monday, February 29, at 8/7c on the National Geographic Channel. It is the story of Malala Yousafzai, a young girl in Pakistan who survived a Taliban attack that occurred while she was returning home on her school bus. The Taliban targeted her for advocating for girls’ education.

The movie looks at Malala’s life before and after the attack including her close relationship with her father Zia. He describes their relationship “we became dependent on each other like one soul in two different bodies.”

The documentary shows how Zia inspired Malala’s love for education by allowing her to attend school and teaching her himself. He supported her passion to share her message with the world even though they both knew it would be dangerous.

Screening the Documentary

I recently had an opportunity to watch the movie courtesy of the National Geographic Channel. They asked me to answer the following questions.

How do you think the role fathers play in raising and inspiring their children as Zia did, has changed in the past decade?  How do you think this role will continue to change? 

The role that fathers play in inspiring and raising their children has changed significantly in the last decade. We participate more in the day to day childcare. We’ve taught our children about responsible digital citizenship, the dangers of social media, cyber-bullying, and the importance of education. We have encouraged our children to pursue their passions and have taught them to set goals.

The Importance of Fathers

The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children, a manual published by the US Government, states that involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring. These benefits include better educational outcomes, verbal skills, intellectual functioning, and academic achievement among adolescents. It shows the way fathers play with their children has an important impact on a child’s emotional and social development. Fathers who develop close bonds with their children, particularly their daughters, improve their self-image and confidence.

We teach our children to break down gender-based stereotypes and to work toward gender equality, but there is more work to be done. It is important for them to understand that their abilities and talents are not defined or limited by their gender. I hope to inspire my daughters to be strong and confident to stand up for their beliefs as Zia did with Malala.

There is a moment when you have to chose whether to be silent or to stand up – Malala Yousafzai

I hope my daughters will stand up for their beliefs and choose to make an impact on the world in that moment.

Early in the film, Zia said he was concerned that Malala wondered why he didn’t stop her from going to school. He displayed the same self-doubt that many of us feel at times. Malala said “no, my father only gave me the name Malala, he didn’t make me Malala. I chose this life, it was not forced on me, I chose this life and now I must continue it.”

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