Malala Yousafzai: The Paradox and Power of Global Celebrity
I’m proud to announce that my article appeared last month in Information Age Publishing’s new collection of essays about women and global leadership!
This collection includes essays by many respected leadership specialists, including Barbara Kellerman, Susan Madsen, and Nancy Adler, and was published under the umbrella of the International Leadership Association.
In only five years, Malala Yousafzai has evolved from a vocal advocate for girl’s education in Pakistan into a survivor of terrorist violence, global activist, fundraiser, and nearly mythic icon. The key reason for her undeniable success in global spheres, and particularly in developed Western nations, is that she has been adopted as a representative for all Muslim women and girls, a kind of leadership I call leadership by synechdoche, that is, the one represents the many.
This leadership position is both powerful and problematic, offering charismatic visibility and significant resources to her cause, but reinforcing Western propaganda around Muslim conflict. In my essay, I argue that leading by synecdoche is a potent form of political and social leadership, but it requires both sacrifice and strategy to maintain without losing the focus of her cause. She is a hero — but we might lose sight of who she is and the complexities of her culture in the process.
I’m thrilled to share this article in this remarkable volume!