Wednesday, February 24, 2016


As a father I want my daughter to have limitless potential to excel at whatever goals she wants to pursue in life.  Fortunately we live in a country where females can attain an education and have societal freedoms which don't restrict her ability to engage in the life she wants to lead.  The ability to get an education is so important for opening opportunities for both professional and personal development, yet even in today's day and age more than 60 million girls are not able to attend school around the world because of societal restrictions or safety concerns.  In my view that is unacceptable!

Ziauddin (Zia)Yousafzai believed in the merits of every female getting the same education as a male would get and opened a chain of schools that allowed girls to attend in rural Pakistan even though there was societal undertones against such things.  Then the Taliban invaded their valley and things got worse.  Yet Zia still encouraged his daughter Malala to attend school and stand up against repression.  She began to blog against the societal restrictions against women dictated by the Taliban and advocate for girls to have the right to go to school.  At the age of 11, Malala was writing a blog for the BBC detailing her life under Taliban occupation, their attempts to take control of the area where she lived, and promoting education for girls living in the Swat Valley.  After a few years her public profile expanded from the blog to doing local, national, and international print and television interviews advocating for peace in her community and women's rights.  Malala's advocacy began to get attention not just in her own community but throughout her country drawing the wraith of the Taliban upon her.

On October 9, 2012, while her father was out of town advocating for more local assistance from the Pakistani government against Taliban repression, 15 year old Malala boarded a bus after school to head home.  A Taliban gunman boarded the bus, asked for Malala by name, then fired three shots at her.  The attack left her in critical condition.  She was eventually able to be be transported to England for treatment and after intensive rehabilitation has made an incredible recovery.  In 2014, Malala was named as a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle against suppression and work in promoting the right of all children to get an education making her the youngest ever Nobel Prize laureate at 17 years old.  With her family now permanently residing in the United Kingdom, Malala and Zia continue to advocate for access to a good education for every girl around the world.

Having just returned from the annual DAD 2.0 SUMMIT conference where more than 400 fathers from across the United States and Canada met to discuss the changing voice and perceptions of modern fatherhood, 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.  A common denominator between conversations I have with other dads in my hometown and the fathers who attended the DAD 2.0 SUMMIT is a desire for our daughters to excel in school and use that education to achieve whatever personal and professional dreams they may have.  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 care-gives while their wives are working moms financially supporting the household.  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.  This hopefully will lead to more opportunities for equality among the sexes when it comes to the freedoms of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness not just in the United State but across the globe.

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?

To help Malala and Zia raise awareness of the plight of girls being excluded from obtaining an education and advocate for every child to have the right to attend a safe school, the National Geographic Channel and 21st Century Fox are engaging in a social media initiative to garner attention and raise money for the Malala Fund.  Timed to the exclusive global broadcast television premiere of Academy Award® winner Davis Guggenheim's feature documentary HE NAMED ME MALALA on the National Geographic Channel, 21st Century Fox has committed to donating up to $50,000 in response to people standing #withMalala through social media.

From February 18 - March 10, 2016, 21st Century Fox will donate $1 to the Malala Fund for every tweet on Twitter using the hashtag #withMalala up to $50,000.  Additionally, Facebook users can utilize a custom application that allows profile pictures to be transformed into a yearbook photo.  The yearbook photo then adds animation that dissolves female users' photos from the page as a powerful metaphor that sheds light on the 60 million girls out of school worldwide and meant to further inspire people to learn about Malala's mission.  For more information about engaging in this social media campaign, visit

HE NAMED ME MALALA will premiere commercial free on Monday, February 29, 2016 at 8pm ET/PT on National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo MUNDO in the United States with a global roll out following shortly afterward involving 171 countries and 45 languages.

Tune in to the National Geographic Channel's showing of HE NAMED ME MALALA on February 29th, tweet out, and stand #withMalala against the subjugation and repression that too many of our world's daughters face everyday.

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