Apple CEO Tim Cook recently announced a partnership with Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and her Malala Fund, which is devoted to improving education for girls. The move is part of Apple’s stated goal of improving education around the world.
The collaboration between the young Pakistani activist and the tech giant will increase funding and resources to the Malala Fund’s programs in Latin America and India, as well as offer secondary education to 100,000 girls. The partnership also aims to double the amount of grants given out by Malala’s Gulmakai Network, which backs girl-focused programs in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Lebanon and Nigeria. The 100,000 girls the partnership aims to help is just a starting goal – Cook and Malala don’t plan on ending there.
Under the agreement, Apple will assist the Malala Fund with technology, curriculum and research to help lower barriers for school-age girls, focusing on countries where girls lack access to quality education.
“We believe that education is a great equalizing force, and we share Malala Fund’s commitment to give every girl an opportunity to go to school,” Cook said in a statement announcing the partnership. “Malala is a courageous advocate for equality. She’s one of the most inspiring figures of our time, and we are honored to help her extend the important work she is doing to empower girls around the world.”
The girls-education activist met the Apple CEO when Cook travelled to England on business, where Malala studies at the prestigious Oxford University. Cook says he reached out to the world-famous activist “just to meet her.” The two struck up a quick friendship based on mutual admiration, and things progressed quickly from there.
“We began to talk and it became so clear that she had such a bold vision,” the Apple chief said in an interview with the Independent. “It really lined up with the boldness of Apple and that the core of it is an overriding belief in equality and that education is the great equaliser. And that has always been at the root of our company and my personal beliefs. And so it started, the fire was lit there. I instantly wanted to throw in on the vision that Malala had.”
Malala, who rose to global fame after being shot by a Taliban gunman in 2012 for advocating for women’s education, is enthusiastic about the partnership with the world’s most valuable company and what it will mean for her cause.
“The vision is clear,” Malala told the Independent. “That is the education of 130 million girls who are out of school. My dream is to see every girl getting quality education, and for that I’m hoping that through partnership with Apple we’ll be able to expand our work and we want to double our Gulmakai champions, who are the local advocates who are supporting the students, from six to 11 countries… I want to teach 100,000 girls and I want to involve girls and make sure that they can get quality education.”
For his part, Cook believes that companies like Apple have a role to play in education, not just in the West, but all over the world.
“I see it as a key responsibility for all companies and not only in their hiring practices and employment practices and so forth,” Cook told the Independent. “But if there are fewer women graduating in the majors that you generally recruit in, like computer science and so forth, I see it as a responsibility of companies to figure out how to change that.”
Justin Anderson | Staff Writer