The Inspiring Father-Daughter Story in “He Named Me Malala”

This Monday, in the commercial-free television world premiere of He Named Me Malala, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was targeted by the Taliban and severely wounded by a gunshot, will take viewers behind the scenes of her life before and after the attack. Moreover, the film illustrates how the horrific shooting sparked an outcry from supporters around the world, ultimately resulting in a global campaign for girls’ education led by Malala.

There is no question that Malala’s father, Zia, played an integral role in shaping her into the advocate for girls’ education that she is today. Like many fathers, Zia has been intimately involved in raising, supporting and helping Malala flourish—both as a young woman and as a leader for change.

Watch: Malala’s Remarkable Story
 Malala is no ordinary girl thanks to her extraordinary father and the special bond they share. See how one girl’s courage and resilience has challenged human atrocities—not with war and arms—but with passion and peace

In anticipation of Monday’s premiere, we looked to some of our favorite dad bloggers to share their fatherly perspective on the following questions:

How do you think the role fathers play in raising and inspiring their children, as Zia did, has changed in the past decade? How do you think this role will continue to change?

Here’s what they had to say:

Tim Burns, of A Geek Daddy, says, “Malala’s story reminded me that while there have been great gains over the last decade by men like Zia to promote equality for our daughters, there is still so much more work to be done.” Burns continues, “I’ve noticed a growing trend in the last decade of more fathers across the U.S., U.K. and Canada becoming more active in the parenting responsibilities of family life and an uptick in stay-at-home dads being children’s primary caregivers, while their wives are working moms financially supporting the household.” He adds, “As gender roles and stereotypes continue to dissolve in the future, I believe that men will be more relatable to women, having experienced a more in-depth relationship through the parenting of their daughters.”

Trey Burley, of Daddy Mojo, reflects, “My ideals of being a dad have certainly changed over time. Granted, I want our children to have elements of my personality, but I sure don’t want them to be carbon copies.” Burley continues, “It makes sense that Malala took such a keen interest in education, given that it’s what her father did. Even when you watch the film, you can see that Ziauddin is a gentle soul with seemingly endless supplies of forgiveness — something that obviously were taken on by his daughter.” He says, “Imagine if more fathers had as influential a role in their child’s lives as he has with his daughter. I certainly think that this trend can change for the better. Fathers don’t have to be Super Dad; they just have to be a good dad.”

Bud Ward, of Essentialist Dad, comments, “The role that fathers play in inspiring and raising their children has changed significantly in the last decade.” He says, “In addition to being more involved in day-to-day childcare, we’ve had to teach our children about responsible digital citizenship, the dangers of social media, cyberbullying and the importance of education. We have encouraged our children to pursue their passions and have taught them to set goals.” He continues, “We have begun to teach our children to break down gender-based stereotypes and to work toward gender equality, but there is more work to be done.” Ward says, “It is important for them to understand that their abilities and talents are not defined or limited by their gender. As a father of daughters, I hope to inspire them to be strong and confident — to stand up for their beliefs as Zia did with Malala. When the moment arrives, I hope my daughters will be among those who stand up for their beliefs and choose to make an impact on the world.”

Niel Vuolo, of Great Moments in Bad Parenting, writes, “Malala is extremely lucky to have a dad like Zia.” He elaborates, “From a young age he tried to inspire her. Even though 10 to 15 years ago, when she was a small child, that kind of parenting — especially for dads — wasn’t the ‘in’ thing. Men were supposed to be distant and just provide the basic essentials for their children. Mr. Yousafzai was honest with his daughter about the way society could be — his hopes and his fears for Malala and her brothers. He was ahead of his time, a true modern dad,” Vuolo says.

A big thanks to all of our participants for sharing their personal experiences on this meaningful and moving topic. Don’t Miss He Named Me Malala this Monday, Feb. 29, at 8/7c on National Geographic Channel.