Malala Yousafzai: I finally got time for myself at university

·3-min read

Malala Yousafzai has said going to university “finally” gave her some time for herself.

The activist and Nobel Prize laureate, 23, made the comments in an interview with British Vogue and features on the cover of the July issue of the magazine.

She completed her philosophy, politics and economics degree at Oxford University last year.

(British Vogue/PA)
(British Vogue/PA)

Discussing her time at university, she said: “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.”

Ms Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman at the age of 15 after campaigning for girls to be educated in her native Pakistan.

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.”

Ms Yousafzai said her fame affected her schooling in Birmingham, where she was educated after leaving Pakistan.

“People would ask me things like, ‘What was it like when you met Emma Watson, or Angelina Jolie or Obama?'” she said.

London Syria Conference
(Jonathan Brady/PA)

“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.”

Ms Yousafzai, who was pictured on the British Vogue cover in a red headscarf, also discussed the importance of the garment for her culturally.

“It’s a cultural symbol for us Pashtuns, so it represents where I come from,” she said.

“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.”

She was the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2014, winning the esteemed accolade for her work campaigning for girls to have a universal right to education.

Editor-in-chief of British Vogue Edward Enninful said: “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 girl’s education, daughter, sister, student and survivor.

“Her friend Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, puts it so well: ‘She has a North Star, which always impresses me’. Me too. But who is the young woman behind the myth? Over the course of three days in April, British Vogue spent time getting to know Malala in London.

“She sat for photographer Nick Knight, filmed an engrossing ‘in conversation’ video with Tim, and spoke in depth with journalist Sirin Kale for the cover story. From her post-uni wobbles to her move into TV production and her eloquent thoughts on wearing the headscarf – and even her trepidation about love and relationships – a new side to Malala, the grown-up, is revealed.

“I hope you all love getting to know this extraordinary person as much as we did.”

See the full feature in the July issue of British Vogue, available via digital download and on newsstands from Friday.

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