I wouldn’t be a feminist if I didn’t have reservations about marriage: Malala

I wasn’t against marriage, but I was cautious about its practice, said Malala Yousafzai in an essay she has written after her nikah ceremony with Aseer drew criticism built on her past statements regarding the institution of marriage.

Writing for Vogue, the magazine which she previously told in an interview she suspected that marriage was not for her, the Nobel Peace Prize-winner said she used to blurt over and over again that she did not want to marry. “…at least not until I’m 35.”

She explained, after the alleged dichotomy of her stance on marriage, that she only questioned “the patriarchal roots of the institution”.

She said that the women are expected to make compromises after the wedding, and around the world, the laws regarding relationships are influenced by cultural norms and misogyny.

Amongst her fears over getting married were losing her humanity, independence and womanhood. “My solution was to avoid getting married at all,” she said.

I couldn’t call myself a feminist if I didn’t have reservations, she said.

Drawing from her own experience, growing up in the north of Pakistan, she said for many girls over there marriage was deemed a substitute for an independent life. “If you don’t study, get a job and build a place for yourself, you must get married soon. You failed your exams? You can’t find work? Get married!”

She said many of the girls she had grown up with were married even before they could be able to decide on a their careers. “One friend had a child when she was just 14-years-old,” she added.

Malala then said that when British Vogue asked her last July about relationships, she responded to the question in the same way she had done so earlier. “…that maybe it was possible that marriage was not for me.”

“What if there was another way? she asked.

The concept of marriage can be redefined with education, awareness and empowerment, she said.

Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai ties the knot, here are Nikah pictures

“My conversations with my friends, mentors and my now partner Asser helped me consider how I could have a relationship – a marriage – and remain true to my values of equality, fairness and integrity.”

Of her wedding, on 9 November, that was celebrated at home with the families and close friends of the bride and the groom in Birmingham, the Nobel laureate said she still doesn’t have all the answers but she believes that she can enjoy friendship, love and equality in marriage.

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