Malala Yousafzai says Tim Cook’s pandemic has hampered education for millions of girls

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The COVID-19 pandemic could force some 20 million girls in developing countries to return to their homes and help support their families, likely depriving them of an education for life, activist Malala Yousafzai told Apple CEO Tim Cook .

Yousafzai and Cook also spoke about their shared love for the comedy series Ted Lasso, which is streamed on Apple TV+.

The two talked about a feature released Thursday by British Vogue.

Yousafzai, the 23-year-old Nobel laureate, was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman at age 15 after campaigning for girls’ education in her native Pakistan.

Malala Yousafzai

Apple CEO Tim Cook

The COVID-19 pandemic could force some 20 million girls in developing countries to return to their homes and help support their families, likely depriving them of an education for life, activist Malala Yousafzai (left) told Apple CEO Tim Cook (right)

Despite the tragedy, she told Cook she would like to return to her homeland after the travel restrictions, first introduced because of the pandemic, are finally lifted.

The iPhone maker has partnered with Yousafzai to promote the Malala Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to defending the right of all girls to 12 years of free, safe, and quality education.

In the British Vogue video, Cook asks Yousafzai how much progress has been made towards the fund’s goal of educating 130 million girls worldwide.

Yousafzai said that while “we have seen progress over the past 20 years” that has been “stable and slow”, the COVID-19 pandemic has “drasically changed the situation”.

The iPhone maker is working with Yousafzai to promote the Malala Fund, a non-profit organization that aims to promote the right of all girls to 12 years of free, safe and quality education.  The image above shows young students in Peshawar, Pakistan on Wednesday

The iPhone maker has partnered with Yousafzai to promote the Malala Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to defending the right of all girls to 12 years of free, safe, and quality education. The image above shows young students in Peshawar, Pakistan on Wednesday

“These girls are now home and have more family work to do,” Yousafzai said.

“They are asked to do family chores. They are being asked to become a financial sponsor for their family.’

She added: “All these girls are being pushed into early childhood managers and many of these girls may never be able to go back to school.”

Yousafzai said her organization’s research shows this is what happened to girls during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa nearly a decade ago.

“This is the fear I have of girls – they will lose their education because of this pandemic,” she said.

Yousafzai said education will be more dependent on technology after the pandemic, putting girls at a disadvantage.

“The challenge ahead is to make sure education is inclusive,” she said.

Yousafzai told Cook she plans to visit Pakistan after the pandemic.

“It’s just beautiful,” she told Cook.

“I miss my hometown, Swat Valley. Just seeing those mountains and lush green hills and rivers again – that was something I took for granted when I was there in Pakistan.’

She added: “When you go around the world and visit other countries, you realize that beauty of nature cannot be found everywhere.”

“I would love to go to Pakistan, and frankly, after this pandemic,” Yousafzai said.

Earlier this year, Apple announced that Yousafzai will produce original programs for its streaming service Apple TV+.

She said she’s a “big fan of comedies and documentaries and movies and cartoons — and that’s what I hope to create.”

Yousafzai said her favorite show was Ted Lasso, a comedy starring Jason Sudeikis.

Cook and Yousafzai said they were enjoying themselves during the pandemic watching their favorite show, Ted Lasso, which airs on Apple TV+.  The main character played by Jason Sudeikis is a minor soccer coach from the USA who leads a professional team in England despite having no experience.  From left to right: Nick Mohammed, Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt

Cook and Yousafzai said they were enjoying themselves during the pandemic watching their favorite show, Ted Lasso, which airs on Apple TV+. The main character played by Jason Sudeikis is a minor soccer coach from the USA who leads a professional team in England despite having no experience. From left to right: Nick Mohammed, Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt

The former Saturday Night Live star plays a minor soccer coach from the US who leads a professional team in England, despite having no experience.

During the pandemic, Sudeikis’ “joyful” nature brought “so much laughter and joy into your life,” Yousafzai said.

Lasso “makes you giggle” because “you love his sense of humor.”

“It was emotionally as touching as it was funny,” she said. “I binge-watched it, and I was watching it until 3am!”

Cook agreed, saying he couldn’t wait for the second season.

“It was my favorite show during the pandemic,” the Apple boss said.

“It made me feel light and happy and optimistic, despite the news of the day.”

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