Open main menu

Ziauddin Yousafzai

Ziauddin Yousafzai (born 1969 Shangla, Pakistan) is a Pakistani education activist best known as the father of Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, who protested against the Taliban for the education rights of girls, especially for Pakistani girls. He is currently the United Nations Special Advisor on Global Education[1][2][3][4] and also the educational attaché of Pakistan in its consulate in Birmingham, UK.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11]

Ziauddin Yousafzai
ضیاء الدین یوسفزئی
Remise du Prix Sakharov à Malala Yousafzai Strasbourg 20 novembre 2013 01 (cropped).jpg
Native name
ضیاء الدین یوسفزۍ
Born (1969-12-07) 7 December 1969 (age 49)
Children3, including Malala Yousafzai



He was born on 7 December 1969.[12] 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.[12][13] He is also a school owner and an educational activist himself, running a chain of schools known as the Khushal Public School,[14] named after a famous Pashtun poet, Khushal Khan Khattak,[15] as well as being a member of the Rotary Club of Swat.[16]

Politically, he is affiliated with the Awami National Party (ANP), a left-wing Pashtun nationalist party in Pakistan whose origins are linked with the Khudai Khidmatgar (aka Red Shirts), which was a secular Pashtun non-violent movement against the British Raj.[17]

In July 2015, Yousafzai helped launch Global Peace Centre Canada (GPCC) at the University of Waterloo's Conrad Grebel University College.[18] Yousafzai serves as the Honorary Chair on the Board of Directors of GPCC.[19]

Yousafzai wrote an autobiography titled Let Her Fly which was published in November 2018.[20]

Early childhoodEdit

Growing up, Ziauddin had a stutter. Since his father was an educational activist, Ziauddin was inspired. Even though he had a stutter, he wanted to prove to his parents that he would be able to learn and speak correctly.[12]


Ziauddin Yousafzai attended Jahanzeb College located in Swat, Pakistan. During his time in college, he was made general secretary of the Pakhtoon Students Federation (PSF), a student group that wanted equal rights for Pashtuns. Yousafzai graduated from Jehanzeb College with a Master's in English.[12]

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.[12]

On June 11, 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.[21]

Personal lifeEdit

Yousafzai has an older brother, Saeed Ramzan, and five sisters. He has a wife, named Toor Pekai, a daughter, Malala, and two sons, Khushal and Atal. His first daughter (circa 1995) was stillborn.[12] Ziauddin has been seen on interviews with his daughter, being able to speak fluent English, Urdu, and Pashto.

Other activitiesEdit

Ziauddin did a sit down interview with the current affairs program The Agenda.[1] He also gave a speech for TED Talk where he describes the reasons he encourages his daughter to speak up for women's rights. 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.[2]


In 2017, Yousafzai was awarded, along with his daughter, an honorary doctorate from the University of Ottawa.[22]


  1. ^ a b "Yousafzai: Pakistan's Fight For Education". Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Yousafzai: My daughter, Malala". Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  3. ^ Mughal, Ubaid (10 December 2012). "Malala's father Ziauddin Yousafzai named UN Special Adviser on Global Education". Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  4. ^ AFP (10 December 2012). "International". Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  5. ^ Meikle, James (3 January 2013). "Malala Yousafzai's father appointed to diplomatic job at UK consulate". Retrieved 31 July 2017 – via The Guardian.
  6. ^ UK, PA/The Huffington Post (3 January 2013). "Malala's Father Given Diplomatic Job In Switzerland". HuffPost UK. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  7. ^ Kneezle, Sarah. "The Malala Yousafzai Saga: Like Father, Like Daughter". Retrieved 31 July 2017 – via
  8. ^ "Topics Glossary – South China Morning Post". Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  9. ^ "Malala Yousafzai's father to work in Birmingham". 23 November 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2017 – via
  10. ^ "Malala to undergo skull surgery". Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  11. ^ Diplomatic role for Malala’s dad – Hindustan Times Archived October 23, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ a b c d e f 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 0316322407.
  13. ^ The Life and Times of Malala Yousafzai, Anita Gaur, Prabhat Prakashan publishers, New Delhi, 2016, pg 49
  14. ^ Coulson, Andrew J. "Why Malala Didn't Go to Public School". Cato Institute. Retrieved 13 November 2013.
  15. ^ Tohid, Owais (11 October 2012). "My conversations with Malala Yousafzai, the girl who stood up to the Taliban (+video)". Retrieved 31 July 2017 – via Christian Science Monitor.
  16. ^ editor, TERRY BRLAS Strongsville Post. "Improving education for Pakistani girls aim of 'Reach Within'". Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  17. ^ "The antagonism towards Malala in Pakistan". BBC. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  18. ^ "Taliban attack strengthened family's commitment to education for all". The Waterloo Region Record. 11 June 2015. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  19. ^ "GPCC: Board of Directors", GPCC, retrieved 20 September 2015
  20. ^ Turner, Janice (October 27, 2018). "Zia Yousafzai interview: how Malala's father became a feminist in Pakistan". The Times. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  21. ^ "Ziaddin Yousafzai Receives Honorary Doctorate". Laurie Alumni. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  22. ^ "The University honours Malala Yousafzai". 12 April 2017. Retrieved 13 April 2017.