Ziauddin Yousafzai

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Ziauddin Yousafzai
Ziauddin Yousafzai, 2023
Born (1969-04-20) 20 April 1969 (age 54)
Alma materJahanzeb College
Occupation(s)Education activist
Co-founder and Board Member of Malala Fund
Political partyAwami National Party
SpouseTor Pekai Yousafzai
Children3, including Malala

Ziauddin Yousafzai (Urdu: ضیاء الدین یوسفزئی; Pashto: ضیاالدین یوسفزی; born 20 April 1969)[1] is a Pakistani education activist best known as the father of Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, who protested against the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan opposition to the education rights of girls, especially for Pakistani girls.

He is currently co-founder and Board Member of Malala Fund and the author of Let Her Fly (2018).[2]


Early childhood[edit]

Yousafzai was born in 1969 to a Pashtun family in Shangla. Ziauddin's father was the orator Rohul Amin Yousafzai, who was also a teacher of theology at a government high school and imam of the local mosque.[3][4]

As teacher he used to run a chain of schools known as the Khushal Public School,[5] named after a famous Pashtun poet, Khushal Khan Khattak,[6] as well as being a member of the Rotary Club of Swat.[7] Politically, he was affiliated with the Awami National Party, a left-leaning Pashtun nationalist group.[8]


Ziauddin drew inspiration from his father, an educational activist. Even though he had a stutter, he wanted to prove to his parents that he would be able to learn and speak correctly.[3]

Ziauddin Yousafzai attended Jahanzeb College located in Swat, Pakistan. During his time in college, he was made general secretary of the Pashtun Students Federation (PSF), a student wing of the Awami National Party (ANP) that wanted equal rights for Pashtuns. Yousafzai graduated from Jahanzeb College with a Master's in English.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Yousafzai has a wife, named Toor Pekai, a daughter, Malala, and two sons, Khushal and Atal. His first child, born before Malala, was stillborn.[3] Ziauddin has been seen on interviews with his daughter, being able to speak fluent English, Urdu, and Pashto.


When his daughter, Malala, was old enough to start understanding that at a certain age girls were prohibited to attend school, he inspired her to stand up and speak up. Instead of attending school, girls would have to stay home and learn how to cook for their brothers and fathers. When he created his schools after college with his friend Naeem Khan, they would of course be open to teaching girls who would strive to keep learning and going to school. He supported every woman who wanted to become successful in life and not stay illiterate like many women in Pakistan.[3]

Other activities[edit]

Ziauddin did a sit down interview with the current affairs program The Agenda.[9] He also gave a speech for TED Talk where he describes the reasons he encourages his daughter to speak up for women's rights.[10] In his speech, he recalls never seeing his sisters' names written on paper growing up, and going to school while they all had to stay home. He attributes his activism to these facts.


On 11 June 2015, Yousafzai received an honorary doctorate of law from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada for his commitment to peace, as well as his ongoing efforts for the educational rights of girls in Pakistan and beyond.[11]

In 2017, Yousafzai was awarded, along with his daughter, an honorary doctorate from the University of Ottawa.[12]


Yousafzai wrote an autobiography titled Let Her Fly which was published in November 2018.[13] In his book he describes his fight for the rights of all children to have an equal education, and speaks about opportunities and social and political recognition.[14]

The Bollywood actor Atul Kulkarni played Malala Yousafzai's father in the film Gul Makai.[15]


  1. ^ "What Being Malala's Father Taught Me About Feminism". Time. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  2. ^ "Big names are heading to the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2020". What's On Dubai. 13 November 2019. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e Yousafzai, Malala; Lamb, Christina (2013). I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. New York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-32240-9.
  4. ^ The Life and Times of Malala Yousafzai, Anita Gaur, Prabhat Prakashan publishers, New Delhi, 2016, pg 49
  5. ^ Coulson, Andrew J. "Why Malala Didn't Go to Public School". Cato Institute. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  6. ^ Tohid, Owais (11 October 2012). "My conversations with Malala Yousafzai, the girl who stood up to the Taliban (+video)". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  7. ^ Brlas, Terry. "Improving education for Pakistani girls aim of 'Reach Within'". The Post Newspapers. Strongsville Post. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  8. ^ "The antagonism towards Malala in Pakistan". BBC. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  9. ^ "Yousafzai: Pakistan's Fight For Education". youtube.com. Retrieved 24 November 2015., Co-Founder of Malala Fund https://www.malala.org
  10. ^ Goldberg, Eleanor (18 March 2014). "Malala's Dad: 'I Am Known By My Daughter And Proud Of It'". HuffPost. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  11. ^ "Ziaddin Yousafzai Receives Honorary Doctorate". Laurie Alumni. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  12. ^ "The University honours Malala Yousafzai". uottawa. 12 April 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  13. ^ Turner, Janice (27 October 2018). "Zia Yousafzai interview: how Malala's father became a feminist in Pakistan". The Times. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  14. ^ Clark, Alex (11 November 2018). "Malala's father, Ziauddin Yousafzai: 'I became a person who hates all injustice'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  15. ^ "Gul Makai movie review: This Malala Yousafzai biopic is a half-baked fare". Hindustan Times. 31 January 2020. Retrieved 12 April 2023.