Malala Yousafzai was born in Mingora, a town in the Swat District of north-west Pakistan on July 12th 1997 . Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai named her after Malalai, a Pashtun heroine. For the first few years of her life, her hometown remained a popular tourist spot that was known for its summer festivals. But it soon began to change as the Taliban tried to take control. After the Taliban began attacking girls’ schools in Swat valley, Malala delivered a bold speech in Peshawar, Pakistan, in September 2008 titled “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?”
Becoming an Education Activists
Yousafzai began blogging for the BBC about living under the Taliban’s threats to deny her an education. In order to hide her identity, she used the name Gul Makai. However, she was revealed to be the BBC blogger in December of that year. Around this time, Malala was featured in a documentary made for The New York Times. Soon she gained popularity and mass following, and with a growing public platform, she continued to speak out about her rights including all deprived women, to education. Malala and her father received death threats but continued to speak out for the right to education.
Her activism resulted in a nomination for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011. That same year, she received Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize and was nominated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu for the International Children’s Peace Prize. In response to her rising popularity and demanding national recognition, Taliban leaders voted to kill her.
Attack on Malala
On the afternoon of October 9, 2012, Malala boarded her school bus in the northwest Pakistani district of Swat. A gunman asked for her by name, then pointed a pistol at her and fired three shots. One bullet hit the left side of Yousafzai’s forehead, travelled under her skin through the length of her face, and then went right to her shoulder. The shooting left Malala in critical condition, so she was flown to a military hospital in Peshawar. A portion of her skull was removed to treat her swelling brain. To receive further care, she was transferred to Birmingham, England.
In the days following the attack, she remained unconscious and in critical condition, but later her condition improved enough for her to be sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, for intensive rehabilitation. Yousafzai was taken out of a medically induced coma.She underwent multiple surgeries including repair of a facial nerve to fix the paralyzed left side of her face. In March 2013, she was able to begin attending school in Birmingham. She gave a speech at the United Nations on her 16th birthday, in 2013. She has also written an autobiography, “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban”, which was released in October 2013.
Bravery and Recognitions
On 12 October, a group of 50 Muslim clerics in Pakistan issued a fatwa against those who tried to kill her, but the Taliban reiterated their intent to kill Yousafzai and her father. Deutsche Welle wrote in January 2013 that Yousafzai may have become “the most famous teenager in the world.” United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon brown launched a UN petition in Yousafzai’s name, demanding that all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015. She was honored with the Mother Teresa award for Social Justice, November 2012.
In 2013, Malala and Ziauddin co-founded the Malala Fund to bring awareness to the social and economic impact of girls’ education and to empower girls to raise their voices, to unlock their potential and to demand change. The European Parliament awarded Yousafzai the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. She was also nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. She didn’t win the prize, but was named a nominee again in March 2014. Malala finally accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on 10 December, 2014 with Indian children’s rights and education advocate Kailash Satyarthi. Later she contributed her $1.1 million prize money to financing the creation of a secondary school for girls in Pakistan.
Leanin.Org held a live chat on Facebook with Sheryl Sandberg and Yousafzai about the importance of education for girls around the world. She talked about her story, her inspiration and family, her plans for the future and advocacy, and she answered a variety of questions from the social network’s users. She has become a global advocate for the millions of girls being denied a formal education because of social, economic, legal and political factors. She was bestowed with Skoll Global Treasure Award, Philadelphia Liberty Medal and Honorary Canadian Citizenship.
In 2015, Asteroid 316201 Malala was named in her honor. The 2013, 2014 and 2015 issues of The Time magazine featured Malala Yousafzai as one of “The 1oo Most Influential People in The World”
Proud moments and holding hands
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described her as “a brave and gentle advocate of peace who through the simple act of going to school became a global teacher.
United States President Barack Obama found the attack on Malala “reprehensible, disgusting and tragic” while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Yousafzai had been “very brave in standing up for the rights of girls” and that the attackers had been “threatened by that kind of empowerment”. British Foreign Secretary william Hague called the shooting “barbaric” and that it had “shocked Pakistan and the world”. American singer and Pop sensation Madonna dedicated her song “Human Nature” to her at a concert in Los Angeles the day of the attack, as well had a temporary Malala tattoo on her back. American actress and activists Angelina Jolie wrote an article on her and later donated $200,000 to The Malala fund for girls education. Former First Lady of US Laura Bush wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post in which she compared Yousafzai to Madame Anne Frank. Indian director Amjad Khan announced that he would be making biographical film based on Malala Yousafzai.
On her 18th birthday on July 12, 2015, UN introduces the Malala Day, and on that note, the young activist opened a school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon. Its expenses covered by the Malala Fund, the school was designed to admit nearly 200 girls from the ages of 14 to 18. “Today on my first day as an adult, on behalf of the world’s children, I demand of leaders we must invest in books instead of bullets,” Yousafzai proclaimed in one of the school’s classrooms. In October 2015, director Davis Guggenheim gives viewers an intimate look into the life of Malala, her family, and her commitment to supporting education for girls around the world; with his beautiful documentary “He Named Me Malala”.
According to Malala “if the whole world stopped spending money on the military for just 8 days, we could have the $39 billion still needed to provide 12 years of free, quality education to every child on the planet.”
Let us take pledge to stand for her cause to educate girls on global scale and learn to live a life of equality, harmony and peace. As Malala says “One Child, One Teacher, One Book, One Pen can change the world.” Stand #withMalala
To Donate or take action, visit https://www.malala.org