Her teachers included men. Her journey to school, often in difficult terrain and bad weather, was accomplished by a male bus driver (a courageous activity, given the resistance to girls’ education in that part of Pakistan; indeed, she was shot in the bus on her way home from school). When she was attacked, Pakistani military men transported her to medical care.
Many Pakistani men are not the misogynists of the Taliban. They are my father, my grandfather, my brothers, cousins, friends, colleagues, protectors, and teachers.
Malala was shot because of the power of her voice, something she discovered within herself at an early age and that her parents, including her father, nurtured from the start. I would find my public voice only after I published my first book, “In the Land of Invisible Women,” about my experiences as a doctor in Saudi Arabia. But I reached that moment because my father especially pushed me toward a rigorous and ultimately American education.
At Malala’s age, my father was orphaned of his father, who was a headmaster and scholar. My father was left to support his siblings and illiterate mother. A refugee from India in the newly formed Pakistan, he sometimes collected firewood to help make ends meet. Once stability arrived, despite poverty, my father also pursued scholarship.
My own childhood was much more privileged than his, or Malala’s. My father exchanged the dusty Punjab to provide me the playing fields of England and keys to the classical British education he so admired. I was educated at Bablake, one of the oldest schools in England, founded in 1344 by a woman, Queen Isabella.