Speeches & Transcripts
Transcript: “I Am Malala” - A Conversation between Malala Yousafzai and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim
October 11, 2013
DR. KIM: Welcome, everybody. It’s so great to see everybody.
Malala, welcome to you.
Just two months ago, on her 16th birthday, Malala addressed the United Nations calling for worldwide access to education. Malala, you told the delegates that the bullet that was meant to silence you just one year ago had failed. You said, “Nothing changed in my life except this. Weakness, fear, and hopelessness died. Strength, power, and courage were born.”
Malala, your strength, power, and courage are an inspiration to us all. It’s an honor to have you join us here today at the World Bank on this very, very special day. Yesterday, you were awarded the European Union’s Sakharov Prize, which is Europe’s top human rights award, and I can’t think of a better voice --
MS. YOUSAFZAI: Thank you so much.
DR. KIM: -- for girls’ education.
But you had an amazing week. What I’ve learned is that you a launched a book, you met the star of Ugly Better -- I don’t even know what that is.
MS. YOUSAFZAI: She’s Pretty Betty.
DR. KIM: Pretty Betty. And Jon Stewart tried to adopt you.
What a week. What’s next week?
MS. YOUSAFZAI: So I’m really happy because this is an important week of my life.
I have so many great things to do but this week we are working on Malala Foundation. And I want to help those children who are out of school and I also want to work on the ground, and for that reason we have set up Malala Fund to do advocacy, to build schools, to do teachers’ training, to motivate the parents of the children to send their daughters to school, and as well as to recognize those girls who are speaking up for their rights and to award them and to recognize them.
So this week I have launched the book, I Am Malala, and this book not only tells my story, but it tells the story of every girl who has been suffering from terrorism in Afghanistan and in Pakistan. It is about girls’ rights. And I know -- and I’m proud to be a girl -- that we girls can change the world. So are girls with me?
DR. KIM: So, Malala, you mention the Malala Fund, and I just met your cousin who runs the fund. Right? And what do you want to do with this fund?
MS. YOUSAFZAI: Malala Fund, we may call it foundation as well. When I was in Swat before the incident that I faced, I was thinking that I’m speaking up for my rights, I’m speaking up for the rights of every girl, but I also need to do work on the ground, not for just looking at a child and speaking up for him but also to do something for him so that he can go to school. And at that time it was my dream to set up an organization, a foundation where I can build schools and educate those children. And now it’s a great opportunity for me because people are supporting me, you are supporting me, and of course, World Bank is supporting me -- I’m hopeful.
DR. KIM: Well, in preparation for your arrival we thought just about how we could support you, so I’m very happy to announce that we are making a $200,000 donation to the Malala Fund today.
MS. YOUSAFZAI: Thank you.
DR. KIM: My chief financial officer is in the crowd and he’s very surprised right now, but he’s very happy.
So, Malala, you have become an agent of change. You’re starting a movement. How do you do that? How do you get people behind you on this great movement for girls’ education?
MS. YOUSAFZAI: The first thing is I believe in the power of the voice of women. And then I believe that when we work together, that it’s really easy for us to achieve our goal. When I was in Swat, only a few of us were speaking but still our voice had an impact. And now, not only I but millions of girls are raising their voice and they are speaking. So I believe that through our voice, through raising our books and our pens, we can achieve our goals, and as soon as possible. But we need to work hard for it and we need to work together.
DR. KIM: Malala, you know, you focus so much on education. Now, I hear that at one point you wanted to be a doctor. Now, I’m a doctor, but I hear you don’t want to be a doctor anymore. What’s wrong with being a doctor? Doctors can be politicians too.
MS. YOUSAFZAI: It’s a good idea to be a doctor. But I think it’s really hard to be a doctor forever, and then you have to treat patients and help them every day. And you have like a tight schedule, so that’s why politicians -- I have chosen politics because politicians only need to speak.
(Laughter and applause)
MS. YOUSAFZAI: If I go in detail and if I really speak from my heart, I think by becoming a doctor I can only help a community, a small area. If someone is being shot, I can only help him, I can only treat him. But by becoming a politician, I can take action so that tomorrow the doctor will receive no such cases in which a person will be shot. This is my dream, to see no more patients.
DR. KIM: Okay. Okay. I’m convinced you’re a politician.
DR. KIM: Let me ask you just to tell the story. I mean, I’ve now heard you tell it several times, but I think it’s so important for everyone to hear. You thought a lot about what it would be like before you were shot about what would happen if an attacker came at you. Can you tell us that story?
MS. YOUSAFZAI: My father spoke for women’s rights and he still continues his campaign. At that time, when Talibanization was spreading in Swat, the Taliban blasted more than 400 schools only in Swat. They blasted 1,500 in province Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. They were slaughtering people. They were flogging women. But still, we were not expecting them to kill a child. We were not expecting them to shoot a child. So at that time I was worried about my father. But then later on, when I was nearly 14 or 15 and when I received the threats, then I started to think about myself, Malala, now you are growing older. And at that time, when I used to go back to my home and when I was in the streets going to school, I used to think that the Talib will come, he’s definitely going to come and he’s going to shoot you. Are you stopping your campaign? And I said, “No, definitely not.” So then what are you going to do if he comes? And I prepared myself for that; that if a Talib comes and he has a gun and he’s going to shoot me, I will tell him, “Shoot me, but listen to me first. Listen to my voice. Listen to what I say.” And I will tell him that I want even education for their sons and daughters. I’m not speaking up against them. I’m not against any person, but I am against their ideology. I am against their mission that they are saying. Why are they against education? And then I’ll tell them that I have said what I wanted to and that was my right and now you do what you want.
DR. KIM: Malala, we have many wonderful guests here. We have girls here in the front row, ambassadors for Girl Rising, and members of the Girl Up organization who are eager to ask you a question. So let’s give them a microphone, and here we go for the first question.
SPEAKER: Hello. My name is Sandra (inaudible). I am an ambassador of Girl Rising and from the Democratic Republic of Congo. And my question today is how can we make sure that girls and women stay on our agenda every day that we are talked about, not just on this one day? I think it’s really sad that we only raise these issues on today. So we want to make sure that we’re talked about every day. And how do you suggest we go about doing that?
MS. YOUSAFZAI: Thank you.
In my opinion, we must keep in mind that we are celebrating Girls’ Day and Women’s Day, but it does not mean that this one day is for women and for girls. Every day is our day, and we are going to speak for ourselves and for our rights. And I think that there is no day for men, there is no Boy Day, and we are going to struggle and we are going to struggle, we are going to struggle for our rights. So then tomorrow we will not need a day for ourselves. We will not need a day. We wouldn’t need any day.
DR. KIM: Malala, you know, we also asked people around the world to send us their questions, and this question was especially meaningful for me. As you know, I told you I’m a father of a 13-year-old son and a 4-year-old son. And so Mark Toft wrote to us and said, “Malala, I am so proud of you. I am a father of a 4-year-old girl living in America. Any words of advice for the fathers of young girls around the world? My daughter will know your story.”
MS. YOUSAFZAI: I think my father is a great example, and as my father says, don’t give something extra to your daughters. Don’t do anything for them, but don’t do one thing. My father says that don’t do one thing with your daughters, and that is do not clip their wings. Do not cut their wings. And let them fly. And give them the equal and the same rights as your sons have. Accept them as human beings. And I think my father is a great inspiration for me and is for everyone. So.
DR. KIM: Can you stand? Mr. Yousafzai. Thank you.
Now, let’s take another question from one of the girls.
QUESTION: Hi, Malala. I’m (inaudible) and I go to a high school called Stone Ridge right around here, and I’m here with Girl Up. And this is a question from a 13-year-old boy in Ghana who asked, “When you were on your hospital bed did you ever wish that you were a boy?”
MS. YOUSAFZAI: A boy? It seems really strange.
MS. YOUSAFZAI: I never wished to be a boy, and I will never wish. I’m proud to be a daughter. I’m proud to be a girl. And I know that girls are famous for their hard work, I’m proudly saying. Girls are famous for their being obedient to parents. They listen to their parents. I don’t like to be like boys. And I don’t want to be like my brothers.
MS. YOUSAFZAI: But the thing is that when I was in the hospital, it was really a hard time for me because when I was shot, I don’t remember that incident, what happened to me. And I was going back home, but I did not know that the journey will never end. And after seven days I saw myself lying in a bed in a hospital in Birmingham. And at that time my parents were not with me, and 10 days later I saw them. And I didn’t know where I was. I didn’t know what language do people speak. I didn’t know who brought me there. But I was sure about one thing; that God had saved my life. He had given me a new life, a second life, and for a cause. And I used to ask two questions from the doctors always. The first question was, “Where is my father?” I couldn’t speak at that time so I used to call the nurse or a doctor to give me a pen and a paper, because of the tube in my neck, I couldn’t speak. And the second question that I always wrote was that we don’t have money, who will pay for me?
So that was a hard time, but I was thinking that my father isn’t in Birmingham because we are not rich people and my father cannot afford the money spent on the visa between Pakistan and the U.K., and I thought that he cannot even afford the money that is being spent on me in the hospital. I was thinking that my father might be selling the building of the school and our house. Then I said your house and your school is on rent. How can he sell it? Then I said he might be asking people for loans, but I didn’t know that there were some other problems for my father that he couldn’t come. But it was really a hard time for me, but still I was thankful to God.
DR. KIM: Thank you.
DR. KIM: Another question from around the world. Kim Eisenstein has asked, “What is your favorite subject in school? Or do you have one? You seem so talented and smart.”
MS. YOUSAFZAI: My favorite subject is the one in which I am not smart at all. And I think that subject needs people with brain. My favorite subject is physics.
I like physics because it’s true it has like -- it has nothing else. It just tells you truth. It tells you about the love and the principle that the whole universe is obeying, so that’s why I love physics and the great thing about physics is that it explains very big things in a simple two-three words equation. So that’s great about physics. In simple two-three letters it explains the law that the universe is obeying. F is equal to m, w is equal to mg. So I love physics. And I’m really weak in physics.
DR. KIM: So very few words explains big things. We have many economists here, and economics is just the opposite.
DR. KIM: Why don’t we do one more question from girls.
MS. O’CONNOR: Hello. My name is Sheridan O’Connor and I go to Georgetown Visitation. It’s an all-girls school that’s just about 15 minutes away from here. And so Rahima from the Philippines asked you, “How do you manage to live a normal teenage life with all the major happenings that have happened in your life?”
MS. YOUSAFZAI: Thank you so much.
I don’t know usually a teenage life would be just to enjoy at school and have a mobile phone, call your friends, go out on trips, and enjoy your life, but still teenagers have to do homework. And another thing is that I am busy all the times, but I remain busy and I have accepted this busy life but for a reason. And I am happy that I remain busy for that reason because that is the education of every child. And if I don’t watch TV for 10 minutes, if I don’t play cricket for two-three minutes, and if I don’t fight -- well, I usually fight -- but if I don’t fight with my brothers, and if I work for education, and if I dedicate myself to education and it means that I’m helping those 57 million children who are out of schools, and for me their education is important. For me the education of every child is important and we can see the children are starving for education and we need to help them. We need to raise their voice. We need to take action and we need to work for them. Thank you.
DR. KIM: Thank you.
DR. KIM: You know, Malala, you’ve talked about your brothers twice already. You have two brothers. Now, let me just say that I think that what my two sons need more than anything else is a big sister like you. Right?
Now, Jon Stewart offered to adopt you. Right? But I think you’ll be much happier at my house.
DR. KIM: Because we also eat rice and we eat very spicy food. You’ll at least like the food better at my house.
MS. YOUSAFZAI: Thank you so much.
Well, I had a very bad experience at my house and I’m expecting that that would be a good experience. And the thing is that my brothers are like really cruel to me.
MS. YOUSAFZAI: Outside, everyone respects me, everyone supports me, everyone is helping me in my cause of education, and at home they don’t even understand it.
DR. KIM: Same thing with me. Same thing with me.
DR. KIM: My children are the same way.
MS. YOUSAFZAI: And I was telling my brother that you are nine. You don’t need to use iPod. It’s not for children. You must concentrate on your studies. And he was asking for iPod. He was crying. He was weeping. And I was trying to convince him. And then he started saying, “Malala, you have forgiven the Talib but you’re not forgiving me. Let us live.” And he said you are cruel to us. And I said, “What can I say?”
DR. KIM: Malala, we talked a little bit about this upstairs. What can we do to change the mindsets and attitudes of those people who don’t want girls to get an education?
MS. YOUSAFZAI: The first thing is that when we look at the causes of why girls are not going to school, as well as boys, the things that come are poverty. Because of poverty, those children have to do child labor, child trafficking. They have to earn for their family.
And then the second reason is the culture norms and taboos in many places, and people also use the name of religion against the education of children. So I think we must change the mindset of people. And we must not consider it that it would be very difficult because those serviced can change the mind of people to make them societal takers, to make them societal (inaudible) so then we can also change their minds to tell them about humanity, to tell them about peace, to tell them about equality. And I think that if those terrorists, they are successful in their mission because they can change the minds of people really easily. They’re doing their job easily, so then why can’t we? If they’re struggling so hard, so we must also struggle hard. And I think it is a necessity that every one of us should take part in it. It’s not only --
MS. YOUSAFZAI: I speak and they work. Painters, artists, they give the message of education and of humanity through colors, through paint. Musicians sing. And I think that every person -- whether a child, whether a young person, whether an adult, whether an old person, they all can do and they all can take part in it.
So, I think it’s the duty of every person. Most of the time we blame politicians, but -- I’m going to be a politician so that’s why I’m protecting politicians -- but we are also responsible for it. In Swat -- in Swat we’re suffering from terrorism. At that time when we were speaking up for our rights, when the girls of Swat were speaking, we did not know our voice will reach to someone or not, but we did.
We thought that it is our responsibility to speak. If I cannot do anything else, then the better way is to do what I can. You can write. You can say. You can take action. So, there are many ways to fight all these problems. But we need to take a step. And I think, let us support the cause of education, and in my opinion, education is the only solution.
DR. KIM: So, Malala, we have many politicians here at this meeting, but we have very special kind of politician, they are finance ministers, central bank governors, ministers of development, so they control all the money. This is a very special kind of politician. What would you tell them?
MS. YOUSAFZAI: If I talk really from my heart and if I look at the United States of America, only to the government of the United States of America, you all know that people in suffering countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, are really angry with United States.
I think the best way to fight terrorism is not through guns. If you want to end a war through a war, it’s never going to end. You won’t do --
Much of the money is spent on making tanks, on making guns. Much of the money is spent on soldiers. We need to spend the same money on books, on pens, on teachers, and on schools. So, the governments must take an action. It’s the duty of the government. It’s their duty. We want them not to able to take a decision according to their views and according to their ideas. We want them to listen to us. We want them to listen to what we say, and we ask them now, that work for education of every child. And do not fight through guns, fight through pens and through books. And take education serious.
So, I think that the governments must take an action.
DR. KIM: Do we have more questions? So, Malala, if you look back in your childhood, what do you think were the events that prepared you for where you are right now? What are the things that you remember most about growing up in the Swat Valley? I mean, within your book it seems like such a wonderful childhood, but then you became a fighter. How did that happen?
MS. YOUSAFZAI: The first thing is that Swat is a very beautiful place that I have ever seen. Now I can’t go back there, that’s why it’s really precious for me. And now I realize how beautiful it was.
Those tall mountains, those rivers, those green fields, I can never forget. I have never seen such a beauty, and for me there are two paradises, one paradise is after and one paradise that I have on art is Swat, and I invite and I welcome all of you to go to Swat and to see its beauty and you would love it, I bet.
And the other thing is that when I was in Swat, I was considered to be like an intelligent kind of child, but I was not that much good. But still, I used to get high marks in class and I was on the top position, but then a girl came, a rival came, and because when usually we get first position and when we get success, we just tell ourselves, it’s easy. But it’s never easy. You have to work hard. Don’t ever think that now everything is easy, so tomorrow it will be easy again. Don’t ever think like that.
At that time I was thinking that she can’t beat me. I am Malala. I get the high marks. But she did it. And I got the second position in my class. I got lower marks than her. And I learned that if you want to stay on the top, then you must struggle for it. It’s not true that you will always be on the top until you struggle -- until you work hard, until you do your homework on time, until you prepare yourself for the exams.
So, living in Swat, enjoying our life, going on summer trips and winter vacations, and seeing the beautiful scenery like Malam Jabba, where there is ski resort, where we have chair lifts. It was a really good life. As we see in movies, a movie starts from like a good kind of life, a happy, happy life, and then suddenly something bad happens, a villain comes and the hero has to fight. And the same happened in Swat, some villains came, some bad people came.
They snatched our normal life from us, they blasted our schools, they flogged women, they killed people. They were even against shaving beard, they were against cutting hair, they were against nail polish, even simple things in our lives. We only mentioned blasting schools, but we have never mentioned how many rules they were telling women to do.
A woman cannot wear their kind of burka. There were also problems in burka, what kind of burka women should wear. We could not go to market. At that hard time, the movie, the bad time was coming in the movie, the villain was coming, but the hero, we must keep in mind, always wins. And we fought for our rights. I wrote the blog for BBC, I wrote my diary, I wrote what was happening Swat. Not only I was speaking at that time, many of my friends spoke to the media channels, to the newspapers, media was taking our message, was transferring our message. It was like a messenger. It was telling what we are saying to the world.
So, we spoke. We wrote. And we raised our voice. And we were like fighting with the villains and we were having like a sword and maybe a gun in our hands and we were fighting with them, and then at the end, as usual, there’s a happy ending of every movie and we struggled for it and we achieved that happy ending.
Even though we had to leave Swat for three months, we had no home at all there to live, many people were living in camps, but still, when we spoke, we achieved our goal. And then we went back to Swat and now, even now, Swat is a peaceful place. I can make sure, not only those people are killed who spoke at that time, and you must not keep my (inaudible) in mind because that happens to some people, that doesn’t happen to everyone, so I invite all of you to go to Swat.
And the ending of that movie is happy. Now you can see that there is peace in Swat. Girls are going back to their schools. Women are allowed to go to market. But if you go to the whole Pakistan, still there is terrorism. On our media channels, if you hear that two, three persons are killed in Karachi or in the horror in Peshawar, it’s not news -- it’s no more a news. If you hear that no one is killed on this day, that is the breaking news.
So, I think that today we are just dreaming of a better world, of a better future. I’m just dreaming now to see every girl going back to school, to see every boy, not to be working at the workshops, not to be selling ice creams on the way, but going to school. I can see a better future. I dream. And I believe that today’s dreams becomes tomorrow’s reality and let us make our dreams tomorrow’s reality.
Thank you so much.
DR. KIM: I think we have time -- one more question from the girls.
QUESTION: Hi. My name is Quinn O’Connor. I go to Georgetown Visitation and this was one of the questions that was sent in.
“I’m a nine-year-old and I love to read. I would love to know what your favorite book is. Thank you for everything you are doing for girls around the world.”
MS. YOUSAFZAI: Thank you so much. I like reading books because we learn from books, we learn about history, we learn even about future. I read many books, not a lot as compared to U.S. because in Swat if you read ten books you are considered to be a very intelligent student. And I read only nine or ten books at that time when I was in Swat and people said, Malala is a very good student and she’s studying hard. But I didn’t know when I came to UK people told me they have read thousands. And now there’s a competition for me to beat all of them.
So, I like the book “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho in which he describes -- and it’s also a message for me and for all of us -- that if you are sincere to your cause, if you are honest to your cause, if you do it faithfully, then the whole universe will be faithful to you, then the whole universe will support you.
And I also read books like “Sophie’s World”. It’s a story of philosophy. I also have now finished books like “Parvana’s Journey”, “Mud City”, “My Name is Parvana”, “The Breadwinner”. These are four books, but the story is one. And it’s about the life of girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s about the girls who suffer from terrorism and about those girls who struggle hard and who fight back.
So, I think that you would also -- I know you all read books. I’ll just tell the students of Pakistan and those countries who do not read books to read books.
DR. KIM: Thank you. Malala, so, you’re here at the World Bank and we do a lot of work in developing countries. So, what would you tell us to do differently? And I would just really urge you, don’t be a politician, tell us what you really think about how organizations like ours need to change to support what you’re trying to do.
MS. YOUSAFZAI: Thank you. The first thing is that when I hear from people -- when I hear about different organizations, much of the money is spent on health, on AIDS, and on different other problems that we are facing in developing countries. But I think that all these organizations must make education their top priority.
If you educate a child, then you also help him how to protect himself from AIDS, how to protect himself from diseases. You tell him about clean water, you tell him about if you boil water, then it gets clean.
So, I think education is the best solution to fight many other issues as well. Through education you can fight child labor. Through education you can fight child trafficking. Through education you can also fight poverty.
So, all these problems are linked together. Poverty causes children not to go to school, but if you educate a child, in future if he gets a job, then there will be no poverty. They would have opportunities in their lives. And, as well as, through education they will know about the world outside.
When I was in Swat, I just thought that Swat was the only world. I didn’t know that there is a world outside as well.
So, through education we can get a broad mind. And I will request all the organizations to make education their top priority and to work for education and especially the countries that need the most, countries like Syria, countries like Nigeria, countries like Pakistan, countries like Afghanistan, countries like India.
So, we must start our work from the countries that are suffering the most. As well as countries in Africa, because there we have the problem that there is no -- their children are also dying of thirst and hunger and they’re also starving for education. So, we need to work a lot and I hope that if all the organizations and people and all of us work together, and if the governments taking action, then I think we will find a solution for all these problems and you will see that a day will come that every child will be going to school.
DR. KIM: You know, Malala, we’re here in the James D. Wolfensohn Atrium and we’re very lucky that we have Jim Wolfensohn in the crowd today…
DR. KIM: And Jim was a former president and he was a great -- he was the greatest advocate, along with his wife Elaine, for education and the World Bank. And Jim, I was just wondering if you would say a few words? We’re going to bring a mic right to you.
MR. WOLFENSOHN: Well, I just wish that one of your objectives was not to be a politician but to come and run the World Bank.
DR. KIM: He’s firing me already.
MR. WOLFENSOHN: Because I didn’t do a good job and Jim Kim’s not doing a good job, and we need you. So, I really do want to thank you for speaking so passionately and in such an informed way after the group here. It’s very rare that we have someone like you in the institution, or at least it was very rare when I was here, and to have you speak with such meaning and such intensity on a subject which we’re very supportive of is a great thing for all of us.
And also, you brought a number of these other lovely young girls here, which we don’t have very often either, so thank you for filling the audience, and I hope all of you will also come and work at the World Bank very soon.
But really, thank you very much indeed for being with us.
DR. KIM: Thank you.
MS. YOUSAFZAI: Thank you so much. Thank you.
DR. KIM: So, Malala, in closing, now you’ve done so much in your life and you’re 16. So, where do you see yourself in 10 years, in 15, in 20 years? I know you want to be a politician, but how are you going to get there? What are you going to do?
MS. YOUSAFZAI: The first thing is that I have started my campaign through Malala Fund and I have started it now, and we have already started our first project that is in Swat. We’re educating 40 girls who are suffering from child labor and now they’re studying, now they’re getting education.
But still, we need to work a lot.
I want to concentrate on my studies as well. I want to educate myself. I want to get knowledge. I want to empower myself. And I’m hopeful that a day will come that I will go back to Pakistan as soon as possible. I’ll go back to my homeland.
But I want to go back there, but really empowered and empowered with education. So, I need to study hard, I need to work hard, and then later on, I am hopeful that people will vote me. I haven’t chosen a party yet, but vote for me.
DR. KIM: Well, I think you’ve collected many, many votes here, and I just want to ask you if you have any last words that you’d like to leave for us.
MS. YOUSAFZAI: The thing is that I believe it seems hard when we think about those suffering countries and when we think that how can we do it, it’s like impossible. But let us look back at the history. In history we have seen great wars, First World War, Second World War, but that’s ended now, that’s over, and I believe that this war that we are suffering from now, we may call it the Third World War, we are also going to fight against it and we are also going to win it.
And so never lose hope. Never lose hope. Never lose hope.
So, I think if we never lose hope and we continue our struggle and when we work together, then we can achieve our goal and that’s very necessary for our campaign. Thank you.
DR. KIM: Thank you.
DR. KIM: Malala, you…
DR. KIM: Malala, you said when you were at the UN, “One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.” You’ve changed us here today and you are changing the world. Thank you so much.
MS. YOUSAFZAI: Thank you so much. Thank you.
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