I enjoyed speaking with Dr. Santos’ students and answering their great questions. You can watch our full conversation here:
Some students and viewers had questions that we didn’t get to during our video – so I’m answering them in this week’s issue.
My father was an educator, a community advocate and spoke out against the Taliban, so he certainly influenced me. I was also a great admirer of [Prime Minister] Benazir Bhutto, who was such a powerful and inspiring figure for many women in Pakistan. I aspired to be like her – brave, commanding, diplomatic. I chose to attend Lady Margaret Hall college at Oxford in part because she also studied there.
It’s really simple but educated girls become empowered women. That doesn’t mean that every smart woman in college is going to have a lot of confidence. But it does mean that we must ensure girls get enough quality education to have the opportunity to succeed in their chosen field.
In our communities, we have to tell girls to pursue their dreams. Whatever a young woman wants to accomplish, let her try to her fullest capability. Tell her she can do it. Parents, teachers, friends: make sure you remind girls of their talent and worth whenever they’re feeling insecure.
It certainly hasn’t been easy for me — I’ve had multiple surgeries to repair the trauma to my body. And I still miss the community where I grew up and all my friends in Pakistan. But I also believe that hopelessness wastes your present and your future. I feel that I have been given this second life and that I should dedicate it to building a better world, especially for girls. I’m very grateful to be alive and be able to learn and grow. I want the same thing for every girl.
Thank you to everyone who tuned in and submitted questions for my discussion with Laurie.