A father must be the number one fan and supporter of his daughter's education

Malala with her father (Photo credit: Taylor Hill/ The Telegrah)

The words and the actions of  my father, my brothers as well as my male relatives and friends played a big role in shaping my character. Nevertheles, my loving relationship with my father has been the most important one of all.

My father was the first man to offer me flowers. When I felt discouraged, my father often tried to find the right words to encourage me. Even when he didn't  share my viewpoint, my father listened to me and allowed me to express myself freely during our conversations.

The healthy relationship I still have with my father has boasted my self-confidence and partyly helped me to be come the well-balanced woman I've become. When I shared my passion for women's issues to him and my willingness to get involved, my father took me seriously. My father told me that advocating for girls and women was a noble thing to do. Over the years, my father has remained a role model of leadership, generosity, and intellectual curiosity.

Like my father, they are men who are actively invested in the life of their daughters. In a BBC article reporting a film about the Yousafzai family, Malala's father ZiaddinYousafzai described his daughter Malala as "special" since her birth. This father of three placed his life at risk in a patriachal society in which "women are not known in public and their names are only known to family members."

Malala's father wanted her to be "brave" and "be known by her name" like the legendary 19th centuray Pashtun warrior Malala of Maiwund he named after his daughter. This father went against the discriminatory social norms that restricted the rights of his daughter and many Pakistani girls and women.

The relationship between a father and his daughter is an important one for both (the father and the daughter). In her book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters (2007), Dr. Meg Meeker stated "Father, more than anyone else, set the course for a daughter's life." In fact, girls' access to the opposite sex is generally shaped through their relationship with their fathers. Therefore, having a nurtuing relationship with their fathers goes a long way. According to Meeker, daughters often follow their father's behaviors, using them as role models.

The relationship between fathers and daughters is important because fathers as men are often able to make decisions that will be beneficial to their daughters. In patriachal societies such as the ones of Cameroon and Pakistan, the impact of fathers is even more powerful.

For example, fathers can offer their moral and financial support so their daughters can go and stay in school. This was the case of Malala whose dream was to attend school. Malala's current success couldn't be possible without her father's support.

The same is true for myself whose dream was to further my higher education beyond a bachelor's degree. My father never discouraged me to do so. He still supports me in my various endeavors including empowering girls and women around the world.


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