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Malala Was Already a Feminist Before Using the Word

Malala Was Already a Feminist Before Using the Word

Malala Was Already a Feminist Before Using the Word

Malala has a documentary based on her life story coming out soon and it's called He Called Me Malala. While promoting the movie, she sat down for an interview with U.N. Ambassador and actress, Emma Watson.

You don't need to say Malala's last name to know who she is. She's on that level of recognition with public figures like Beyonce, Madonna, and Cher. Although she's not a pop star, Malala's a Nobel Peace Prize winning teenager. Remember, she's only 18. Back in October, the Internet couldn't believe that she wouldn't use the "F word." 


A photo posted by Malala Fund (@malalafund) on


Today, headlines popped up claiming that Malala finally called herself a feminist and it was all because of Emma Watson. She credited Watson's now famous U.N. speech from last year on gender equality and the #HeForShe campaign as the moment she realized she's a feminist. But isn't it fair to say that Malala was already a feminist, even if she didn't identify as a feminist? Do you have to use the word "feminist" to be a feminist? 

Here's what Malala said:

“It has been a tricky word. When I heard it the first time, I heard some negative responses and some positive ones. I hesitated in saying am I feminist or not? Then after hearing your speech I decided there’s no way and there’s nothing wrong by calling yourself a feminist. So I’m a feminist and we all should be a feminist because feminism is another word for equality.”

No one disagrees with the fact that Malala's brave actions at the age of 14 — standing up to the Taliban for the right to education for young women, and then getting shot in the face for her bold actions — are feminist. So, if anything, the Internet should issue a small correction. It's like Malala said, "Feminism is another word for equality." It was just through her friend, Emma Watson, she realized her actions are feminist, but it's not that she wasn't already a feminist. 

Watch the video between the two below: 

Into Film Festival opening Q&A

Today I met Malala. She was giving, utterly graceful, compelling and intelligent. That might sound obvious but I was struck by this even more in person. There are lots of NGOs out there in the world doing great things... But if there were one I would put my money on to succeed and make change on this planet, it would be hers. (The Malala Fund). Malala isn't messing around or mincing her words (one of the many reasons I love her). She has the strength of her convictions coupled with the kind of determination I rarely encounter... And it doesn't seem to have been diminished by the success she has already had. And lastly…She has a sense of peace around her. I leave this for last because it is perhaps the most important. Maybe as a result of what she has been through? I personally think it is just who she is…Perhaps the most moving moment of today for me was when Malala addressed the issue of feminism. To give you some background, I had initially planned to ask Malala whether or not she was a feminist but then researched to see whether she had used this word to describe herself. Having seen that she hadn't, I decided to take the question out before the day of our interview. To my utter shock Malala put the question back into one of her own answers and identified herself. Maybe feminist isn't the easiest word to use... But she did it ANYWAY. You can probably see in the interview how I felt about this. She also gave me time at the end of the Q&A to speak about some of my own work, which she most certainly didn't need to do, I was there to interview her. I think this gesture is so emblematic of what Malala and I went on to discuss. I've spoken before on what a controversial word feminism is currently. More recently, I am learning what a factionalized movement it is too. We are all moving towards the same goal. Let's not make it scary to say you're a feminist. I want to make it a welcoming and inclusive movement. Let's join our hands and move together so we can make real change. Malala and I are pretty serious about it but we need you. With love, Emma x#HeNamedMeMalala #notjustamovieamovement Malala Fund Into Film

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Emma Watson on Wednesday, November 4, 2015


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Yezmin Villarreal

<p>Yezmin always has a coffee in her hand. She&#39;s a writer from Phoenix, AZ, who is interested in the intersection of race, sex, and gender in pop culture.</p>

<p>Yezmin always has a coffee in her hand. She&#39;s a writer from Phoenix, AZ, who is interested in the intersection of race, sex, and gender in pop culture.</p>