October 10, 2014

Most Pakistanis agree with Malala on educating girls

Credit: Getty Images

Malala Yousafzai’s courageous advocacy for girls’ education has inspired people across the globe, and today she was awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. As a student at the school her father ran in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, Malala became a well-known champion for educating girls. And ultimately, she also became a target for the Taliban, who violently oppose schooling for girls. A Taliban gunman shot Malala in October 2012, but today, at age 17, she has recovered from her injuries and now lives in Birmingham, England. 

Most Pakistanis agree with Malala on educating girlsThe vast majority of Pakistanis agree with Malala, not the Taliban, on the issue of girls’ education. In a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, 86% said education is equally important for boys and girls. This included 85% of men and 87% of women.

When we asked specifically about Malala in our 2014 poll, we found more Pakistanis expressing positive views about her (30%) than negative views (20%). However, roughly half did not have an opinion – something that could certainly change now that she’s won what is arguably the world’s most high profile honor.

Negative Ratings for the Taliban in PakistanOverall, the Taliban has little support in Pakistan. Anti-Taliban sentiments rose sharply in 2009, when, for a time, the militant group took control in much of the Swat Valley, which is within 100 miles of the capital Islamabad.

In 2008, Pakistani views about the Taliban were essentially divided: 27% gave the extremist organization a positive rating, 33% gave it a negative one, and 40% offered no opinion. A year later, seven-in-ten Pakistanis expressed an unfavorable view, and ratings for the Taliban have remained decidedly negative ever since.

Topics: Asia and the Pacific, Education, Religious Beliefs and Practices, Religious Extremism

  1. Photo of Richard Wike

    is director of global attitudes research at Pew Research Center.

2 Comments

  1. Tanveer2 years ago

    Dr Richard: Overall findings of your study are convincing especially people attitude towards the importance of education, decline in support for Talban. Many people on street, however,still see Malala’s achievements with an eye of doubt. Media acknowledges her but people still are struggling to understand how a young girl like her may won so many awards .

  2. Steve Biko2 years ago

    Given the fact that girls are so much less educated, education for girls is MORE important than for boys.

    It might not be so in the future, but for now “education is equally important for boys and girls” is false equivalency.
    Any good politician (like miss Yousafai might become) should fervently deny this of course and defend that false equivalency, so as not to upset the power structures.