Malala Yousufzai condemns Pakistani UN ambassador
United Nations

Malala Yousufzai: Taliban restrictions on women and girls are not Pashtun culture

Malala Yousufzai has repudiated the Pakistan to the UN representative’s comments that the Taliban’s restrictions on women and girls were part of the “Pashtun culture.”

Writing in the Dawn newspaper, the Nobel Laureate, who, in October 2012, was shot in the head by a Pakistani Taliban gunman in the head for her activism, said “As a Pashtun woman, a Pakistani and a Muslim, I must vehemently disagree. The Amb­assador, who has since apologised for his remarks, attempted to shift the blame for the inhumane misogyny facing Afghan women to Pashtun culture.”

The Pakistani ambassador to the UN, Munir Akram, apologised for his comments yesterday, stating that “I mispoke & my words did not accurately reflect Pakistan’s position.I have deep respect for Pashtun culture. Denying women & girls access to education is neither Islamic, nor Pashtun culture.”

For Malala Yousufzai, the Taliban “alone bear the responsibility for the catastrophic violation of women’s rights in the country they control.”

“As a girl, I went to school. I dreamed of being a car mechanic, a doctor and even prime minister. My father, a proud Pashtun man, encouraged me to learn as much as I could, to speak out in public on issues facing women and girls, and to choose my own future. It wasn’t my community that stopped me from going to school — it was the Pakistani Taliban who imposed a ban on girls’ education, on women leaving their homes, on men shaving their beards, on music, on art, on anything they chose.

“I do not claim that Pashtun societies are perfectly equitable. As in many other parts of the world, our women and girls still face high barriers. We have more out-of-school girls than boys. Too many girls are forced into early marriages.”

The activist called on “leaders around the world” to “join together and speak with one voice” against the Taliban’s oppression of women and girls.