Malala Fund co-founder Shiza Shahid to speak in honor of Women's History Month


February 16, 2018

Shiza Shahid, known for her activism and co-founding the Malala Fund with Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, will speak in SUNY Oswego’s "I Am Oz” Diversity Speaker Series at the start of Women’s History Month.

The free public event will take place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 1, in Marano Campus Center auditorium, Room 132. Doors will open at 6.

A social activist during her teenage years in her native Pakistan, Shahid first worked with children born to women in prison. She then studied business at Stanford University for four years, but that did not stop her from reading about the issues facing women in Pakistan.

Yousafzai, known simply as Malala, gained worldwide sympathy and support in her struggle to get an education -- including an official order barring girls from attending school in Malala's Taliban-controlled region of Pakistan and an attempt on her life at 15 that left her wounded.

Shahid, still a teenager herself, had reached out to Malala ever since her fellow education activist came to the public's attention at age 11 while blogging for the BBC, and came to the girl's side after the assassination attempt.

“Shiza’s story is so compelling,” said Associate Dean of Students Daniel Roberts. “She took extraordinary steps at 19 for women’s education.” 

Shahid at age 24, Malala at 15 and Malala's father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, a teacher and administrator, founded the Malala Fund. It officially launched in October 2013 with three focal points: advocacy, storytelling and funding entrepreneurial businesses in areas where girls don’t have access to education. With Shahid as founding CEO, the fund prioritized Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Nigeria, as well as countries such as Lebanon and Jordan housing Syrian refugees.

“I Am Oz” chose Shahid as the next speaker because her work and voice support causes that apply to Women’s History Month, Roberts said. He hopes that those who attend the event will realize they have more power than they think they have, no matter their age.

Though Shahid focuses mainly on women, the men who attend the event can learn how they can be allies, Roberts said. Anyone, regardless of gender, can get involved in making a change, he said.

Passionate about leveraging philanthropy, venture capital, technology and the media to drive scalable social impact, Shahid also co-founded NOW Ventures in 2017, which helps and funds startup companies whose goal is to make the world a better place. She is a personality on the MSNBC feature news show "ASPIREist," covering social issues around the world.

Shahid also is the founder of The Collective, a community of leading entrepreneurs that come together to build collaborative change.

Awards for Shahid have included Times 30 Under 30 World Changer, Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur and Tribeca Institute Disruptive Innovator. She is a member of the WEF Global Agenda Council.

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The “I Am Oz” campaign celebrates diversity in the SUNY Oswego community through events that provide education and information. To learn more about diversity and inclusion at SUNY Oswego, visit