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Malala Yousafzai’s Mother Learns to Read and Write

Despite being the mother of the perhaps the most famous high schooler in the world, little is known about Tor Pekai Yousafzai, the mother of the 17-year-old education advocate Malala Yousafzai. In the years since her daughter became a voice for the rights of Pakistani girls, Mrs. Yousafzai has consistently chosen to live her life in the background, declining all interview requests and stating that she did not want to interact with men outside of her family.

In a recent interview with the New York Times, the younger Yousafzai revealed that her mother has reached an educational milestone of her own — by learning how to read and write.

“She wants to learn. She wants to get an education. She goes to school five days a week. She does her homework,” Malala told the Times. Mrs. Yousafzai remained illiterate until recently despite being married to the principal of a girl’s school.

But as Malala describes it, both of her parents have changed some of their views on gender roles and their roles in the home.

“My mother is now learning English, becoming independent, goes to see the doctor on her own, goes to the shops and markets on her own,” Malala continued. “On the other hand, my father is now going towards the kitchen. He makes eggs. He cannot really do a lot of cooking, but he brings plates to the table, brings cups, puts jam and butter in those things. So he is getting better.”

Malala Yousafzai released a new edition of her bestselling memoir, "I Am Malala," which is geared specifically towards young readers, earlier this week.

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- Lakshmi Gandhi