On 18th April 2023, Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Prize Winner and co-founder of the Malala Fund, was awarded a prestigious honorary fellowship by Oxford University’s Linacre College. The ceremony was attended by the Principal of Linacre College, Dr. Nick Brown, University Professors and Fellows of the College, marking a momentous occasion for both Linacre College and Malala Yousafzai. Other renowned figures who have been awarded honorary fellowships by Linacre College include Nobel Prize winner Sir Paul Nurse and Dr Frene Ginwala, the first Speaker of the National Assembly of the Parliament of South Africa.
Dr. Nick Brown spoke of the history of Linacre College and its commitment to inclusivity, having been established to provide opportunities to students facing financial constraints in affording collegiate memberships. Dr. Brown highlighted that the strong relationship between Linacre College and the Oxford Pakistan Programme (OPP) , was further strengthened by the awarding of an honorary fellowship to Malala, a long-standing supporter of the OPP. He praised Malala’s efforts in empowering women through her unwavering commitment to education, noting that “Malala is globally recognised for her extraordinary work in support of women’s education, particularly for those from the least advantaged backgrounds”. “She has told me how proud she is to join a College that is working so hard in support of the same issues”. Malala is the first Pakistani to receive a fellowship from Linacre College
During the ceremony, Malala shared fond memories of visiting her friends at Linacre College and lauded the impact of the OPP. She spoke with pride about how the dream of the OPP has now come to fruition, transforming the lives of students and serving as a beacon of hope for students in Pakistan.
Dr. Talha Jamal Pirzada, a Fellow of Linacre College and co-founder of the OPP, provided an overview of the OPP’s activities in the past year in promoting education and fostering collaboration between Oxford and Pakistan. He explained that the OPP provided scholarships to 5 deserving students and awarded 6 studentships to Pakistani origin students at Oxford who are in financial need. Additionally, the OPP facilitated 6 work placements at the World Bank’s Office in Pakistan, providing valuable opportunities for professional development and increasing linkages between Oxford’s student body and Pakistan. Dr. Pirzada also mentioned that one of the OPP’s flagship initiatives, the Iqbal Lecture, was televised in over 50 universities, with over 100,000 views on YouTube. Furthermore, through the OPP’s access programme, its reach has been extended to applicants from remote areas of Pakistan, showcasing the OPP’s commitment to inclusivity and accessibility.
“The OPP has become a beacon of hope for thousands of Pakistani students aspiring to pursue higher education at top institutions worldwide,” said Dr. Pirzada. “As we celebrate Malala’s extraordinary achievements, let us recognize the transformative power of education in shaping lives, communities, and nations. Let us also reaffirm our commitment to investing in the education of young girls and women, particularly in STEM subjects, to build a prosperous and equitable future for generations to come.”
Ziauddin Yousafzai also attended the celebration and expressed his joy at his daughter being awarded an honorary Fellowship from Linacre College. He remarked, “It is a huge honour for my daughter to receive this recognition. I could see the joy on Malala’s face when she received the honour, and as a proud father, I am extremely happy for her. I know that she will use this opportunity to further expand her work and collaborate with others to find solutions to the challenges in access to education for girls.”
The evening concluded with an Iftar dinner held in honour of Malala attended by Fellows and Tutors of Linacre College. The event marked a momentous occasion, celebrating Malala’s outstanding achievements and her tireless efforts in promoting education and empowering women.