Watch Malala Get Real With Jon Stewart About Activism and Girls’ Education

The Nobel Peace Prize winner told the ‘Daily Show’ host that if we fearlessly raise our voices, we can catalyze change.
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Jun 19, 2015· 2 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

In the wake of the mass shooting at a historic African American church in Charleston, South Carolina, that left nine people dead, The Daily Show host Jon Stewart had no jokes to tell on Thursday night.

Forgoing his usual wisecracks, Stewart ended an exasperated monologue about the tragedy by introducing his guest: 17-year-old education activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai. Yousafzai was shot in the head in 2012 by a Taliban gunman because she refused to pretend that girls in her native Pakistan have equal access to education. Since then she has become an international symbol of what can happen when you do something about what you believe in.

“Her perseverance and determination through that, to continue on, is an incredible inspiration,” said Stewart. “And to be quite honest with you, I don’t think there’s anyone else in the world I would rather talk to tonight than Malala. So that’s what we’re going to do. And sorry about no jokes.”

Yousafzai, who is the subject of the upcoming documentary He Named Me Malala, which details her life story and her courageous activism, shared her take on what happened in Charleston.

“I have seen these kind of situations in my life when there is no justice; when there is no human feeling, then there is no humanity, and for a second you think that no one has feelings at all,” said Yousafzai in her first segment on the show. “But our prayers are with the families. We pray for peace and for the prosperity of everyone.”

He Named Me Malala - Trailer (OFFICIAL)

It's here! Take a first look at He Named Me Malala a documentary about Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai's life, story and personal journey as an education activist. Pledge to see the film only in theaters this October at Directed by acclaimed documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for "Superman"), the film shows us how Malala, her father Zia and her family are committed to fighting for education worldwide.

Posted by Malala Fund on Thursday, June 18, 2015

Yet, Stewart also noted that the upcoming documentary refreshingly reveals that Yousafzai isn’t “an ethereal creature who must save us.” Instead, the film shows that just like the youths who have taken to the streets in America in support of Black Lives Matter, she’s an ordinary teenager who is speaking up for what she believes in. In Yousafzai’s case, what she believes in so deeply is education for girls.

So, Why Should You Care? “I’m not just representing myself. I am speaking up for all girls who are deprived of education. There are about 66 million girls, and I think I’m speaking up for them, said Yousafzai. Indeed, women comprise two-thirds of the 774 million illiterate people around the world, according to data from UNESCO. That makes them more likely to live in poverty and increases the chances that they will marry at a young age and against their will.

Yousafzai told Stewart that her activism on behalf of uneducated girls and women isnt something that has been forced on her.

Sometimes we wait for others and think that a Martin Luther [King Jr.] should raise among us, a Nelson Mandela should raise among us and speak up for us. But we never realize that they are normal humans like us, and if we step forward, we can also bring change—just like them, said Yousafzai.

In the second segment of the show, Yousafzai and Stewart spoke more specifically about her education activism efforts. Yousafzai shared that she doesnt get depressed when I see that there are 57 million children who are deprived of education only at the primary level or when she sees brilliant girls who have big dreams but they don’t have the opportunity to get education.

Along with encouraging people to speak up for their rights, Yousafzai described some of the experiences shes had meeting and talking with girls in Sudan and Nigeria and told Stewart that she and activists from the organization she cofounded, The Malala Fund, are asking world leaders to mandate 12 years of free, compulsory education for everyone.

You have to sometimes ignore all the formal stuff and tell the truth, she said about meeting with presidents and prime ministers across the globe. “It’s important for the world leaders to think what’s the impact of their policies on common people.”

Stewart wasnt completely somber during the interview. He good-naturedly ribbed Yousafzai about her high school exams and how she might need to add some extracurricular activities that will look good when it’s time to apply for college.
He also joked about the relationship Yousafzai has with her two younger brothers. “I have to think for them to come home and say, ‘I got in the school play,’ and then you could just be like, ‘Is it about, I don’t know, being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, this play?’ ”
The teenagers words of inspiration seemed to move Stewart.
”I have to tell you that you are a wonderful tonic. I felt somewhat despairing today, but I think your single-mindedness has helped lift a bit of that fog for me, and I really thank you for that, even though that is not your responsibility to do that,” he told Yousafzai.