As a Leader: Malala Yousafzai

The education sector is one of the sectors that has been affected by lack of leadership in many developing countries. Pakistan is one of the developing countries that has been affected by leadership problem in the education sector. Malala Yousafzai is a young girl who has taken the mantle to feel the leadership vacuum in the Pakistan education sector. She has been at the forefront championing for the girl child right to education. Her leadership skills and qualities match with those of brilliant leaders. Malala Yousafzai demonstrates the changing role of women leadership in the world today. No one can argue against the fact that Malala Yousafzai is pulling Pakistan women and other women in the world into leadership judgeship.

Malala Yousafzai was born in Pakistan, in 1997. She started her advocacy of the girl child education at a very tender age. This is confirmed by her maiden activism speech in 2008, in which she condemned the Taliban for taking away her right to education (Mascia par 4). She started blogging on BBC advocating for women’s rights to education. She was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize (ICPP) (Petition Encourages Peace Prize for Malala Yousafzai, par 3) for her profound activism in 2011. In addition, she received the Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize (PNYPP), in the same year. The Taliban issued death threats against her on many occasions because of her campaigns for gender equality in the education. For instance, in 2012, an unknown assailant attempted to assassinate her on her way from school (Yousafzai and Lamb).

There are several types of theories that can be used to describe the qualities of Malala Yousafzai. The first one is the ‘great man’ theory, which describes a leader as a person who is born to lead, but not made to lead. In reference to this theory, Malala’s leadership skills and knowledge can be considered as natural. As a young girl, she is courageous and does not get scared of anything in her quest for equality in the education sector. Her authority as a girl child rights crusader has influenced the Pakistan government to take radical measures to address her concerns. Moreover, her continued critique of the Taliban portrays her as a lady who goes against the odds to reaffirm her agendas. These are the characteristics of a born leader as opposed to the mentored leader.

The trait theory that describes Malala Yousafzai as a modern leader is the situational theory. This theory postulates that leaders are able to come with the best solutions to the problems affecting the society. Malala emerged as a leader, during a period when her people, especially women, faced many problems in their societies. She came on the scene to address the girls on their right to fight for education. In addition, Malala demonstrated leadership by her own example. This is confirmed by the foundation of the Malala fund, which helped her finance the education of many people across the world. She also helped in eradicating poverty and ignorance. Moreover, contingency theories explain on leadership styles as related to the immediate environment. In this theory, leadership styles are not good in all situations. Relating this to Malala, she was able to relate her environment with the problems she and other women faced. This girl/woman then came up with good solutions to those problems. For example, she responded to the Taliban threat to girl education in Pakistan by giving a public talk to help in enlightening the public.

Behavioral theories link to the notion that great leaders are always born and not made (Nohria and Khurana 59). It primarily focuses on the actions of leaders, and not necessarily on their mental abilities. Malala is among the people, whose actions are associated with leadership. She majorly wrote on the threat of girl education. She was voted the best blogger of the year. She also got nominated for the award by the Nobel Peace Prize. All these affirm that despite being a woman, Malala has the qualities of a good leader.


Nohria, Nitin, and Rakesh Khurana. Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice: An Hbs Centennial Colloquium on Advancing Leadership. Boston, Mass: Harvard Business Press, 2010. Print.

Mascia, Kristen, et al. “Malala Yousafzai Girl of Courage.” People 78.18 (2012): 52-53. Academic Search Premier. Web. 29 Jan. 2014.

“Petition Encourages Peace Prize For Malala Yousafzai.” Herizons 26.3 (2013): 6. Academic Search Premier. Web. 29 Jan. 2014.

Yousafzai, Malala, and Christina Lamb. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2013. Print.



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