In a personal essay written for British Vogue Nobel Peace Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai talks about her marriage with Asser Malik, her comments about partnership vs. marriage and how she met the guy she married this week.
“In the summer of 2018, Asser was visiting friends at Oxford and we crossed paths. He worked in cricket, so I immediately had a lot to discuss with him. He liked my sense of humour. We became best friends. We found we had common values and enjoyed each other’s company. We stood by each other in moments of happiness and disappointment. Through our individual ups and downs, we talked and listened to each other. And when words failed, I sent him a link to our horoscope compatibility, hoping the stars could help reinforce our connection,” Malala writes in the article.
Addressing the controversy in an interview where Malala talks about a partnership instead of marriage, Malala says, “Knowing the dark reality many of my sisters face, I found it hard to think of the concept of marriage. I said what I had so often said before – that maybe it was possible that marriage was not for me.”
Finding friendship and love in Asser, Malala, who says she did not expect to be married before she was 35-years-old, changed her mind. “With education, awareness and empowerment, we can start to redefine the concept of marriage and the structure of relationships, along with many other social norms and practices. Culture is made by people – and people can change it too. 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.”
Discussing how the Nikkah took place, Malala says it was a wholly family affair. “It was a small affair and group effort. My mother and her friend got my wedding clothes from Lahore, Pakistan. Asser’s mother and sister gave me the jewellery I wore. My father booked the food and decorations. My assistants organised photographers and a make-up artist. My three best girlfriends from school and Oxford took off work and travelled to be there. I put henna on my hands myself, after discovering I was the only one of my family and friends who had the talent! Asser spent several hours in the mall with me the day before the ceremony, buying his pink tie and pocket square and my sandals. My little brothers even wore suits.”
And how does she feel about her future? Malala writes that, “In Asser, I found a best friend and companion. I still don’t have all the answers for the challenges facing women – but I believe that I can enjoy friendship, love and equality in marriage. “