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Malala Yousafzai (left), Shiza Shahid (center) and Malala's father, Ziauddin Yousafzai (right), visit with children in Jordan, where the Malala Fund is supporting informal education programs to engage Syrian refugees.  Photo: Tanya Malott/Malala Fund
Malala Yousafzai (left), Shiza Shahid (center) and Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai (right), visit with children in Jordan, where the Malala Fund is supporting informal education programs to engage Syrian refugees.
Photo: Tanya Malott/Malala Fund

~ by Jenny Price

Shiza Shahid believes girls are the most powerful force of change in the world.

That is what drives the work she does alongside Malala Yousafzai — her friend and this year’s Go Big Read author — to help millions of girls around the world get access to an education.

The UW-Madison community will hear from Shahid on Monday, Oct. 27, when she visits campus to meet with students and give a public talk as the centerpiece of Go Big Read, the university’s common-reading program. The event, hosted by Chancellor Rebecca Blank, begins at 7 p.m. in Varsity Hall at Union South and will be streamed live, captioned and archived for later viewing on the Go Big Read program website. Shahid’s talk will be followed by a question-and-answer session, which will be moderated by Charles L. Cohen, E. Gordon Fox Professor of American Institutions and director of the Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions.

Shiza Shahid
Shiza Shahid

Shahid is a native of Pakistan, a graduate of Stanford University, and a social entrepreneur. She left what she considered a “dream job” as a business analyst for McKinsey & Company to help harness the energy and attention behind Yousafzai into a movement. Along with Yousafzai, she is the co-founder of the Malala Fund, which supports local entrepreneurs in Jordan, Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan who have developed programs to increase educational access for women.

“We were born out of inspiration, out of the miracle that is Malala’s life,” Shahid said in a recent interview with Town & Country magazine.

Shahid was named one of Time magazine’s “30 Under 30 World Changers,” and to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list of social entrepreneurs.

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Malala Yousafzai

More than 5,000 new UW students received copies of “I Am Malala” during Wisconsin Welcome in August, and more than 160 sections of UW courses are using it this semester. During her two-day visit to the UW campus, Shahid will also meet with students from First-Year Interest Groups, the College of Letters & Science Honors Program, the Wisconsin School of Business and the public speaking course Communication Arts 100.

Other upcoming Go Big Read events:

  • Thursday, Oct. 30, 1-2:30 p.m., The Nobel Fighter: Putting Malala Yousafzai in Context, with guest speaker Amitabh Pal, managing editor of The Progressive and author of “‘Islam’ Means Peace: Understanding the Muslim Principle of Nonviolence Today.” 6191 Helen C. White Hall
  • Thursday, Nov. 6, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Reflections on “I Am Malala,” an interdisciplinary discussion sponsored by the Wisconsin Without Borders Alliance, the Center for South Asia and Religious Studies, at the School of Human Ecology atrium.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 11, 4 p.m., Embattled Ideologies: “I Am Malala” and the Question of Women’s Education in South Asia. A free, public symposium presented by the UW Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions, Sheldon Lubar Faculty Commons (7th floor), Law Building
  • Madison Public Library is also hosting book discussions connected to “I Am Malala” during the month of November
    For more information, visit the Go Big Read events calendar.