Watching the film, He Named Me Malala, is immensely influential for all YA viewers. This documentary tells the story of a girl, Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban because she went against their beliefs and tried to stand up for women’s rights and education. Malala survived that traumatic experience and to this day, still advocates for women’s and children’s rights to education.
This documentary is extremely interesting to watch, through a feminist lens. When analyzing a piece of work through feminist criticism, we revalue women’s experiences. Feminist critics examine power relations, with a view to breaking them down, seeing a political act, and showing the extent of patriarchy. Watching He Named Me Malala through a feminist lens is empowering because as viewers, we get to witness how strong patriarchy is in Pakistan and how Malala challenges her country’s current state.
Around 30 minutes into the documentary, Malala narrates the many discussions she has had with her mom, regarding women being respectful to men. Malala’s mother always told her, “Don’t shake hands with men, look down, don’t look at men, it’s a shame.” In response to that, Malala says, “If men can look at me, why can’t I look at them?” Malala’s mom would also say, “Cover your face, people won’t think you are a nice girl.” To this comment, Malala says, “Covering my face made me feel like I was hiding my identity and who I was.” I thought this scene was so eye-opening because you can hear how much the patriarchy of Pakistan has shaped Malala’s mother’s beliefs. Of course, Malala’s mother is not the only woman who thinks like this. That is why Malala is challenging the current narrative of Pakistan and trying to make a change.
Throughout the film, Malala is shown trying to fight for women’s rights to education. Malala tries to start a political act by encouraging girls to stay in school, which is hugely inspiring. About an hour into the documentary, Malala skypes with girls in Pakistan and tries to encourage them to stay in school. She also goes around to different schools to explain how important education is and tries to empower young girls. As a viewer of this documentary, I felt empowered and inspired by Malala’s words and passions. It made me want to jump in the screen, stand by her side, and fight with her.
Overall, I would highly recommend the documentary, He Named Me Malala. Through a feminist lens, this film makes you realize how strong patriarchy is in some places in our world and how women have a huge disadvantage when it comes to their rights and education. Watching He Named Me Malala, will probably make you want to meet Malala Yousafzai and work alongside her.