Malala Yousafzai was no accident. She chose her parents well, parents who believe passionately in the education of girls. Long before his daughter was shot in the face on a school bus by agents of the Taliban for her advocacy work, her father had co-founded, with longtime school friend and fellow educator, Ahmad Shah, the Global Peace Council Pakistan. Their work was risky, often attracting death threats, mostly focussing on peace through education for children living in IDP camps in the Swat Valley.
Malala survived the attack, raising globally the issue of girls’ education. In 2014, she became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
When the Centre for the Advancement of Peace at Conrad Grebel College at the University of Waterloo was looking for a name and a focus for its new Global Peace Centre Canada, they decided to model it after the work done by the Pakistani Global Peace Council, (GPCPK) inviting Ziauddin Yousafzai to serve as the new centre’s honorary chair.
Ziauddin Yousafzai, father of Malala, with Lee McKenna, E.D., of Partera International
In conversations with Ziauddin and with his friend since childhood, Ahmad Shah, Director and co-founder with Ziauddin, of the GPCPK, I heard about the work that they have been doing in Pakistan. It is all about peace through education.
‘Come to Pakistan,’ Ahmad Shah invited, ‘to learn about what we have been doing, to see our schools, meet some of our students. To explore possible work together.’ Inshallah!
I read ‘I am Malala’, captivated by her account of the path that catapulted this young woman into the international spotlight. My granddaughter, Morgan, is now reading about Malala, learning about the struggles that girls around the world have in simply getting an education. The obstacles are daunting.
In all of our trainings, we focus significant attention on issues of gender, of cultural norms that constrain and confine the movements and engagement of women in their societies, that derogate the feminine and violate and deny the rights of women to their full humanity. The marginalisation of half of a society’s population, removing the voice and influence, gifts, experience and talents of women, leaves societies bereft and vulnerable to become or remain underdeveloped and marred by violence. Develop the lives of women and entire societies reap the benefits.
Read here about our efforts to remove one of those barriers to economic, social, cultural, civil and political participation of women in Uganda: Keeping Girls in School.
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