Malala Yousafzai’s latest interview with Vogue has caused a storm, revealing details about the everyday life of the 23-years old activist. At a glance, the Malala that we see in this interview is not only the global activist but also someone struggling with the uncertainties of life after graduating from university.
To summarise, she loves her mum’s cooking, laughs at her own jokes, spent too much time on social media during the lockdown and is always leaving assignments to the last minute. She is also friends with Greta Thunberg, has earned high praise from Apple’s Tim Cook and Michelle Obama, and was star-struck by Brad Pitt.
These are just some of the things she shared in her new interview with British Vogue for the magazine’s July issue.
Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman when she was 15 after campaigning for girls in her native country, Pakistan, to have equal rights to education. At 17, she became the youngest Nobel laureate, receiving the prize for her “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”.
Now, eight years on, she has completed her university education and – like many other graduates – is unsure of her next steps, she tells the publication.
Her headscarf, which she mostly wears when outside in public, is more than just a symbol of her Muslim faith. “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,” the magazine quoted her.
“I want to tell everyone that you can have your own voice within your culture, and you can have equality in your culture,” she said.
“Going to McDonald’s [a sweet chilli chicken wrap and a caramel frappe is her go-to order] or playing poker with my friends or going to a talk or an event. I was enjoying each and every moment because I had not seen that much before. I had never really been in the company of people my own age because I was recovering from the incident [the Taliban’s attempt on her life], and travelling around the world, publishing a book and doing a documentary, and so many things were happening. At university, I finally got some time for myself,” she said during the interview.
Despite being an A* grade student at school and earning a spot at the UK’s most prestigious university, Malala is no stranger to leaving assignments to the last minute, vowing to never do it again, only to find herself in the same situation the following week.
“Every week! I would be so annoyed with myself, like, ‘Why am I sitting here at 2am, writing this essay? Why haven’t I done any reading?’” she said.
Her parents, who had an arranged marriage in Pakistan, would like Malala to get married one day, but she isn’t sure how she feels about it.
“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 said.
Earlier this year, Malala announced that her new production company, Extracurricular, had entered a multi-year partnership with Apple TV+.
Alongside documentaries on issues such as girls’ education and women’s rights, she wants to make comedies. Her personal favourites are Ted Lasso and Rick and Morty.
“I want these shows to be entertaining and the sort of thing I would watch. If I don’t laugh at them or enjoy them, I won’t put them on-screen.”
She added: “I come from a different background, and I also wonder if a woman from a valley in Pakistan had made South Park, what would that look like?”
Friendship with Greta Thunberg
Malala is friends with other notable young activists, including Greta Thunberg, 18, and gun control campaigner Emma Gonzalez, 21. As the oldest of the trio, she is always on hand when they need advice.
“I know the power that a young girl carries in her heart when she has a vision and a mission,” she said.