Shiza Shahid talks helping found Malala Fund at spring speaker event


Shiza Shahid, the University Program Board’s spring speaker, talks March 7 about growing up in Pakistan and helping to found the Malala Fund with Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai. Photos by Melissa Zhuang

When Shiza Shahid was a student at Stanford University, she watched a video that Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai uploaded – three years before then-15-year-old Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman.

Shahid, who is the co-founder of the Malala Fund, spoke at Chapman March 7 about her experience helping found the organization at Yousafzai’s bedside after she was shot.

The Malala Fund is an organization dedicated to advocating for universal education for all women. It is centered in countries such as India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Turkey and Jordan.

“Change is grassroots, gradual and intimate,” Shahid said. “The work I did with Malala was like the butterfly effect: Something so simple can turn into a typhoon.”
Yousafzai’s video inspired Shahid to start a summer camp to teach Pakistani girls the importance of education.

“(The camp showed) the power we have to influence the world in ways we can never imagine,” Shahid said. “We have the power to change what we cannot accept.”

Riddhi Mehra, the University Program Board’s director of awareness, said that about 60 students attended the UPB-hosted event. Although it wasn’t a large turnout, Mehra said, the event was a success because “everyone who came really wanted to be there.”


Shahid meets with students after the UPB-hosted event.

Mehra said that UPB reached out to Shahid because it thought she would connect with students – 24-year-old Shahid is only a few years out of college herself.

“(Shahid has) worked with the Malala Fund and created her own investment company,” Mehra said. “She shows that you don’t need big contacts or money to make a difference … She’s really inspiring because she’s young and has done so much in her life.”

Shahid also spoke about her life in Pakistan, where she was raised.

“I learned what it means to become a woman,” she said. “(Women) are all fundamentally shaped by community, culture and circumstances.”

Freshman business administration major Allie Ma, who volunteered at the event, said that stories about Shahid’s upbringing were a memorable part of the night.

“(Shahid is) the reason that Malala’s name is so well known. She gave Malala the platform to speak out about what was going on in Pakistan, and she was an integral part in making women’s education so worldwide,” Ma said. “There’s so much more to every story than just the one face you see, and it takes more than one person to contribute to everyone’s success.”

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