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Malala’s literacy crusade comes home as mom learns to read and write

Malala's mom can now read and write
Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Malala Yousafzai very literally has dedicated her life to the cause of women and children's education around the globe. This week, the fruits of that labor became very personally sweet, as her mother rose to speak in English for the first time, providing beautiful evidence of her daughter’s mission.

Tor Pekai Yousafzai rose in a brief introduction at an event to promote the young reader edition of Malala’s book, “I Am Malala.” Her words were clear and confident, as she stood and took the microphone to say, “I am Tor Pekai, I am from Pakistan, I have three children,” after some caring prompting from her daughter onstage.

Reporters and researchers have frequently inquired as to where Mrs. Yousafzai was during Malala’s speaking and service engagements traveling around the globe. Malala’s travels always included her father, Ziauddin, whose efforts founded the school for girls that are for the education for which his daughter nearly paid with her life after being shot in the face by a Taliban attacker on a bus. When CBS anchor, Norah O’Donnell, asked about Mrs. Yousafzai last year, Malala explained that she didn't read, write, or speak English, so that made travel and the global world very frightening. Now, Tor Pekai is making big personal strides in reaching out into society with her new skills, going to the doctor and the markets.

Mrs. Yousafzai’s poor upbringing in a neighboring village to her husband’s and restricted opportunity contributed to her reluctance for some time to embrace the world in her own education. She has been taking classes five days a week in the family’s relocated residence in Birmingham, England. She still finds the norms of current society unsettling, relating that scantily dressed women make her feel as though she is “drowning.” The changes have been positive for the man of the house, too. Because her mom is so diligent about doing homework, Malala says that her dad has been pitching in with things around the house. The advocate’s revolution may make its deepest difference right at home.

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