To Top

Glimpsing Malala


If there were ever a woman who created a league of her own, it would be Malala Yousafzai. When the teen took a bullet from the Taliban in October 2012 for campaigning for girls’ education, she instantly became a worldwide heroine. Since her recovery she has continued campaigning for child rights and education, won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize and worked on a biography titled I Am Malala. This year, her story was taken to screen with the documentary He Named Me Malala.

If you were hoping for a poetic tribute to this incredibly inspiring young woman, then this film just might make you shed a tear. If you were looking for a more intimate, journalistic angle that explores Malala’s psyche and the controversial questions surrounding her, then this film may leave you hanging.

Most of the film skips quickly through different aspects of Malala’s life: burgeoning fame, adjusting to life in England, her humanitarian work and so on. Yet the film only offers glimpses into these windows and doesn’t stick around long enough to ask more challenging questions (the closest it ever came was during an interview when the filmmakers notes that Malala doesn’t seem to discuss her suffering). In fact, the film dodges certain burning questions surrounding Malala’s fame. Would she have become famous if the Taliban hadn’t attacked her? How do we see Malala differently than Pakistani people? Did she have to change anything about herself in order to rise to popularity in western media? Is fame preventing her from an easy adjustment to life and school in England?

Something the film does address very well is her relationship with her father. The film begins with the story behind her name: she was named after Malala: a legendary Afghani teen who inspired courage in her people during a battle with the British in 1880. She led them to victory, but at the cost of her own life on the battlefield. Throughout the film we wonder if Malala’s name destined her to be the activist she is today, and whether her father – an educator and activist himself – pushed her to be all these things. In one quote she asserts that everything she had done up until the near fatal accident has been her own choice:

He named me Malala; he didn’t make me Malala.”

Finally, we arrive at the true message of the film: destiny is chosen, not given. Malala wants her story to be an example for girls and women everywhere: that no matter the forces that hinder you, your rights and freedom are worth it.

Comments Here

More in League of Her Own

  • Interview with Emma Sulkowicz

    The Fem League sat down with performance artist Emma Sulkowicz before her debut solo show at the Coagula Curatorial Art Gallery...

    TheFemLeagueMarch 10, 2016
  • A prescription for a time of uncertainty

    I’m going to take a stab in the dark and guess that most of the women reading this are go-getters. Each of...

    TheFemLeagueNovember 17, 2015
  • Victory for Myanmar — Aung San Suu Kyi

    Although emerging from a military background, Aung San Suu Kyi has long lived as the embodiment of the only viable political...

    TheFemLeagueNovember 10, 2015
  • Cultivating confidence — A personal account.

    Regular appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities…she’s brimming with confidence…paints an inspiring picture.  We are told from an early age...

    TheFemLeagueNovember 4, 2015
  • Ballerina Dreams.

    What impact does growing up being told you’re worth very little have? Who do you become when you are raised in...

    TheFemLeagueOctober 29, 2015
  • International Day of The Girl

    The theme for this past Sunday’s International Day of the Girl was “The Power of the Adolescent Girl: Vision for 2030.” The...

    TheFemLeagueOctober 12, 2015
  • Vian Dahkil — A light for Yazidi Girls.

      Why is Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi politician in Iraq’s parliament and one of the most tireless humanitarian workers in the...

    TheFemLeagueOctober 12, 2015
  • Elizabeth Warren Speaks Up For All of Us

    What does it take to be a woman or person that speaks up for what truly matters at a time when...

    TheFemLeagueOctober 1, 2015
  • Model Gigi Hadid Stands Up Against Body Shamers

    In Milan for the one and only @versace_official ♡ thank you dv I LOVE YOU A photo posted by Gigi Hadid...

    TheFemLeagueSeptember 30, 2015