Malala Yousafzai, activist, youngest Nobel Laureate and the most famous person to graduate from Oxford University last year revealed a whole new side to herself aside from being an advocate for girls' education and women's equality, when she became the cover star for British Vogue for its 2021 July edition.
British Vogue's Editor in Chief Edward Enninful took to his social media feeds to share the wonderful news along with stunning shots of Malala in brilliant hue of red, white and blue. Sharing the cover, Edward wrote, "When it comes to people I admire, Malala Yousafzai is right at the top. At 23, the world's most famous university graduate has already lived so many lives. Activist, author, tireless campaigner for girls' education, daughter, sister, student and survivor. It's hard to believe it was only a decade ago that she was a young teenager with a passion for learning, living in Pakistan's Taliban-controlled Swat Valley, blogging about her experience for the BBC and giving a voice to girls denied the right to learn. A near-fatal attempt on her life in 2012 – or what she calls "the incident" – brought her to Britain for specialist surgery. But she didn't stop there. "
In her interview in the magazine, Malala - who has completed her philosophy, politics and economics degree at Oxford University last year - shared that she enjoyed 'each and every moment' at Oxford University including visiting McDonald's and playing poker. Discussing her time at university, she told the publication, "I was excited about literally anything. Going to McDonald's or playing poker with my friends or going to a talk or an event. I was enjoying each and every moment because I had not seen that much before."
She said, she had "never really been in the company of people my own age because I was recovering from the incident, and travelling around the world, publishing a book and doing a documentary, and so many things were happening. At university I finally got some time for myself."
Yousafzai said her fame affected her schooling in Birmingham, where she was educated after leaving Pakistan. She shared, "People would ask me things like, "What was it like when you met Emma Watson, or Angelina Jolie or Obama?', and I wouldn't know what to say. It's awkward, because you want to leave that Malala outside the school building, you want to just be a student and a friend."
Yousafzai, who was pictured on the British Vogue cover and inside it wearing headscarves, shared the cultural importance of the hijab for her as a Pashtun girl, sharing that it has lesser to do with being Muslim. She shared, "It's a cultural symbol for us Pashtuns, so it represents where I come from. And Muslim girls or Pashtun girls or Pakistani girls, when we follow our traditional dress, we're considered to be oppressed, or voiceless, or living under patriarchy. I want to tell everyone that you can have your own voice within your culture, and you can have equality in your culture."
Malala also shared the Vogue cover to her Instagram and Twitter feed and shared, "Thrilled and humbled to be on the cover of British Vogue! I know the power that a young girl carries in her heart when she has a vision and a mission – and I hope that every girl who sees this cover will know that she can change the world." She also acknowledged editor Edward Enninful for creating a diverse space and wrote, "Thank you Edward Enninful for creating a British Vogue where all of us belong."
Born in Pakistan in 1997, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman at the age of 15 on her way back to home from school in the Swat District in an attempted assassination. She was targeted for speaking out about the plight of girls in her region, who were banned from going to school by the Taliban.
In 2013, Malala published her moving memoir I Am Malala that became a worldwide bestseller and for her 16th birthday the young activist addressed the United Nations and established her NGO - the Malala Fund, which aims to ensure that every girl on earth has 12 years of free and safe education, and has active projects in 8 countries. In 2014, Malala became the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.