MALALA charms and inspires the NEVA team in KCHere at NEVA, we were lucky to get to do some relevant and very inspiring professional development on Tuesday night when we joined a Q & A chat with Malala Yousafzai and her father Ziauddin at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in our hometown of Kansas City. In an audience filled primarily with women, at least a quarter of them young girls, the crowd was universally moved with emotion as we listened to first Ziauddin, and then Malala speak and answer questions, led by moderator and author Liz Murray.
Proud of his claim to fame as the father of a well-educated daughter, Ziauddin was incredibly impressive in his ability to empower his daughter to speak out for her education rights. As a teacher, raised by a teacher, he stood his ground as the Taliban burned and destroyed more than 400 schools in Northern Pakistan (including many girls' schools) and peacefully protested to keep his own school open. When the Taliban banned all girls from attending schools in 2008, he encouraged Malala to speak out for the education of girls across the world. He quipped thoughtfully, "No matter what they take from you, they cannot take your education. Educated children cannot be lost... Once educated, wherever you are, you are an important part of your community."
As Malala took the stage, very little was mentioned regarding the violence that overtook her life when she was shot by the Taliban in 2012. Instead, she and her father spoke of forgiveness, regarded by her family as the most powerful aspect of a human's personality. She spoke of the need to turn war funding across the world into education funding, and humbly listed her amazing experiences from lobbying international heads of state to opening schools for girls in refugee camps across the world. Despite her terrifying story, she still views her life as a happy Bollywood-style movie, with one dramatic and dangerous climax in the middle that allowed everything to turn out for the best in the end. Asked by a young Girl Scout in the audience, "After everything you have lived through, does anything still scare you?" Malala had an answer that delighted the audience. She is, in fact, absolutely terrified of balloons, dogs and cats. But, she said, "death took one look at me and sent me back to life, supporting my campaign for equal education rights across the world" and making her message even more poignant.
What does all this have to do with NEVA? Listening to Malala helped further cement our views that change can begin with just one person. Obviously, our conversation in the car driving home from this moving experience revolved around what more we ourselves can do to create change in this world, following Malala's incredible lead. It may seem like a very small gesture to purchase your activewear from a company like NEVA, but if offering just one female artisan significant wages for her embroidery skills on each NEVA piece helps create an empowering and thoughtful learning environment for a young family, then an incredible change in the world has been made, and perhaps another Malala has been offered her own wings.
Look out for more great things from Neva in the future... Inspiration is the mother of our inventions!
Xo, the NEVA Mompreneurs