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Opinion: Malala Is No Longer The Malala We Know


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Opinion: Malala Is No Longer The Malala We Know

The world sprung up in clamour when news of a 15-year old Malala Yousufzai being shot broke out. She was attacked by the Taliban for continuing to advocate for female education. After miraculously surviving the shooting, Yousufzai became a beacon of hope for women empowerment. She is also a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, and is remembered for her continued support for uplifting women. Malala is known for speeches, activism, and books. But apart from being a social icon now, she seems to be wanting to make waves in pop-culture as well.

“I’m an activist, and a storyteller”

An episode from the British TV show called We Are Lady Parts features Yousufzai. Well, she is seen in an avatar starkly different to her usual one. in her on-screen debut, Malala dons an outfit that is a weird mix of Pakistani and Western elements, and is sat atop a Golden horse. She is only on this episode for this very appearance — no lines were given to her. Her engagements with Hollywood have been growing in number, especially since she attended the Academy Awards earlier in the year. She now runs a production company of her own, called Extracurricular, and already has an Apple TV+ slate of titles being worked upon.

Yousufzai tells Variety that she finds herself in a conundrum when asked about her profession in filling forms. She says she is both “an activist and a storyteller.” Citing her long involvement with humanitarian causes, Yousufzai says people “shouldn’t limit activism to NGOs only.” Apart from Variety, she has also been on the cover for British Vogue. For one version of Spiderman in Spiderman: Across the Spiderverse, Yousufzai served as an inspiration behind its characterization.

Has fame changed Malala, the activist?

While Yousafzai is still engaged in numerous charities via the Malala fund, she has been doubling as a Hollywood celebrity. Her fame as an activist in the West led her to be in the most elite of crowds. She’s been at events alongside Oprah Winfrey, Cate Blanchett, Kamala Harris, and many more such notable figures. Yousufzai, along the years, has now also begun to exercise the power one has in such positions.

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Her likeness to the Western celebrity was not so talked about until the situation in Gaza unfolded. While social media was doing the job in getting word about the hellish situation in the region out to the world, Malala was silent. She received a lot of flak, along with many other celebrities, for not speaking up despite being an activist. Yusufzai only publicly voiced her support for Palestinians in April 2024, 6 months after Gaza was laid siege upon.

Yousufzai continues to be condemned by the wave of supporters for the Palestinian cause. And it is worth some thought, since she has been engaged with activism for so long. It’s only natural for an activist to be associated with such a pressing issue robustly. Celebrities who have stood up for the cause have lost fans and even projects. When a situation as horrific as the one in Gaza requires global action, it truly needs all the help it can from activists — like Yousufzai.

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