Malala Yousafzai urges global resistance against Taliban’s gender apartheid, calls for maintaining diplomatic pressure, and emphasizes the vital role of education in empowering women.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai delivered a powerful lecture in South Africa, drawing parallels between the Taliban’s restrictions on women in Afghanistan and the treatment of Black people under apartheid.
Surviving an attempt on her life at 15, Yousafzai has become a global symbol of women’s resilience. During the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, she highlighted the Taliban’s severe limitations on women’s education and freedom, terming their actions “gender apartheid” and urging the international community not to normalize relations with the Taliban.
Since the Taliban’s return to power in 2021, they have curtailed various rights for Afghan women, including restricting their work at aid agencies, closing beauty salons, and limiting travel without a male guardian. Yousafzai emphasized that these actions violate women’s rights, contradicting the Taliban’s promises of respect under Islamic law.
In an interview, she expressed concern that the Taliban might undermine sciences and critical thinking even for boys. Stressing the importance of protecting education from indoctrination, Yousafzai called on the international community to prioritize quality education for girls in Afghanistan.
Following her lecture, Malala Yousafzai called on all countries, including Pakistan, not to normalize ties with Afghanistan and to stand by Afghan women. She asserted that the term “gender apartheid” should be recognized as a crime against humanity and urged international actors to resist normalizing relations with the Taliban.
Concerned about the potential deportation of Afghan families from Pakistan, including those who recently escaped Taliban oppression, Yousafzai stressed the need to prioritize the voices of Afghan women and girls in any conversations.
Malala expressed deep concern about the deportation of Afghan girls, as it not only displaces them but also denies them education and other rights. She highlighted the precarious situation of women activists facing threats and families who have lived in Pakistan for decades. Emphasizing Pakistan’s role as a neighboring country, Yousafzai urged adherence to international commitments and protection of the displaced individuals’ safety and security.
Discussing the education situation in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai pointed out that approximately 12 million girls are currently out of school nationwide. She emphasized the importance of policies guaranteeing 12 years of education for every child and called for support for local organizations raising awareness about girls’ education.
Yousafzai highlighted the multifaceted impact of education on a girl’s future, economic improvement, peace sustenance, climate change mitigation, and reduction of extreme poverty. Addressing the issue of gender discrimination, she stressed the need for laws protecting women and accountability for violators, advocating for a safe environment where women feel secure and free from threats.