Girls’ education rights campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai at Girl Summit 2014,” DFID

January 22, 2018; Mashable

Before the UN named her 16th birthday “Malala Day,” before meeting President Obama in the Oval Office, and before becoming the youngest Nobel Prize laureate, an anonymous group of artists produced this widely seen music video to help Malala Yousafzai create a worldwide movement for the right of all children to education. The movement happened, and along the way so did the Oscar-shortlisted documentary He Named Me Malala, and Time magazine repeatedly featuring Malala as one of the most influential people globally.

Apple just announced with great fanfare that the company became Malala Fund’s first “Laureate partner.”

With Apple’s support, Malala Fund expects to double the number of grants awarded by its Gulmakai Network and extend funding programs to India and Latin America with the initial goal of extending secondary education opportunities to more than 100,000 girls.

Apple will help Malala Fund scale its organization by assisting with technology, curriculum and research into policy changes needed to help girls everywhere attend school and complete their education. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, will also join the Malala Fund leadership council.

Mashable reports that Apple CEO Tim Cook and Malala met three months ago in England, where Malala is a student at Oxford University. They recently visited Lebanese and Syrian students in Beirut, Lebanon, together. Apple’s specific financial and in-kind commitment to the Malala Fund awaits further light, but the new partnership is expected to expand Malala Fund’s initiatives to India and Latin America. Cook said in an interview with Good Morning America, “This is exactly what Apple loves to work on—is something that everybody is saying is impossible.”

Steve Jobs rejected Apple developing charitable programs. Tim Cook put philanthropy on the company’s agenda, and he personally pledged to give all his wealth to charity. There is every reason to applaud Apple’s commitment to advance the goals of Malala Fund. But it would be wise of Apple to always remember that Malala is not just a girl who survived an assassin’s bullet to the head. She is far more than a mere symbol. Malala is a leader who is gaining strength by the day. As NPQ noted about her photo-op visit with fellow Nobel Laureate President Obama, she did not hesitate to speak truth to power.

The courageous Malala Yousafzai looked at the President and told him that his policy of drone attacks was killing innocent civilians in Pakistan and stoking terrorism. In a statement following the meeting, she said, “I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education, it will make a big impact.”

But can such bravery survive the grantor/grantee relationship? We’ll see.—Jim Schaffer