Entrepreneur and social activist Shiza Shahid, co-founder and global ambassador of the Malala Fund, will speak at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, in the James B. Woulfe Alumni Hall of Anderson Student Center on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas.
The talk, free and open to the public, is sponsored by the University Lectures Committee. St. Thomas students, staff and faculty attending the lecture are asked to show their university ID card. A “meet and greet” reception in the Woulfe Hall atrium will follow the lecture.
The Malala Fund is the nonprofit organization representing 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani activist who was shot by the Taliban because of her campaign for girls’ education. The aim of the fund is to help the millions of adolescent girls around the world who are denied a formal education because of social, economic, legal and political factors.
Shahid, 25, is on the Time magazine list of “30 Under 30 World Changers,” the Forbes magazine list of “30 Under 30” social entrepreneurs and the Fortune magazine list of the “55 Most Influential Women on Twitter.” Born in a small village in Pakistan, she has been an activist since her teenage years and attended Stanford University on a scholarship.
Shahid first learned about Yousafzai in a 2009 New York Times documentary about her campaign for girls’ education. Yousafzai was 11 years old when she began writing an anonymous blog about education and growing up in the Swat Valley of Pakistan at a time when the Taliban were becoming increasingly powerful. Shahid contacted Yousafzai’s family to see if she could help, and that summer ran a summer camp for Yousafzai and 26 of her friends from the Islamabad region. The goal of the camp was to support and mentor the girls, who were being denied the right to attend school.
Shahid went on to work as an analyst for McKinsey and Co. in the Middle East while Yousafzai continued to speak out in support of education for women. Yousafzai was 17 when she was shot in the head at close range by members of the Taliban in 2012. She was airlifted to a hospital in England and Shahid quit her job and flew to England to help with Yousafzai’s care.
“I saw Malala soon after she awoke,” Shahid said. “Offers of support for her were pouring in from all over the world. I asked her what she wanted me to say to those who wanted to help her. True to who she is, she said, ‘Tell them I am OK. Tell them to help other Malalas.’”
The Malala Fund grew out of that conversation. The organization works to provide educational opportunities for girls and women in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Information about the Malala Fund and Yousafzai’s 2014 Nobel Peace Prize lecture can be found here.
Shahid’s TEDx talk, “There are no Superheroes, Just Us: My Journey with Malala,” can be found here.