As explained in I Am Malala, how is the birth of a girl treated differently to the birth of a boy in Pakistan?

The birth of a girl is treated differently from the birth of a boy in Pakistan in that when a boy is born, it's a cause for celebration, whereas the birth of a girl occasions considerable gloom.

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Among the Pashtuns, the ethnic group into which Malala is born, there's a huge difference between how people regard the birth of a boy and the birth of a girl. As Malala tells us, rifles are fired in celebration of a son, whereas daughters are hidden away behind a curtain in preparation for a life of domestic servitude.

For most Pashtuns—though thankfully not Malala's parents—the birth of a daughter is a gloomy day indeed. Although Malala doesn't specify why this is, it's almost certainly because girls are expected to bring a dowry—a substantial sum of money or property—with them when they get married, and this can cause her family a lot of hardship.

In any case, Malala's family doesn't observe the Pashtun tradition. They are overjoyed at her entry into the world. Her father's cousin, Sher Khan Yousafzai, comes over to the house to celebrate the newborn's birth and even gives a handsome gift of money.

He also brings with him the Yousafzai family tree, on which Malala's father, Ziauddin, writes her name. This is seen as quite an unusual gesture, but Ziauddin doesn't mind. As far as he's concerned, there's something different about this child. Just how different he will find out in due course.

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