Malala Yousafzai, 19, leads girls around the world to speak out about girls’ rights. Her touching story and powerful speech on an international podium will have you rooting for her courageous crusade.
- The youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate
- Pakistani activist for female education
- Shot in the forehead by a gunman in 2012
- Taliban intent to kill Malala and her father
- One of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World
Born on July 12, 1997, Malala is the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. She is a Pakistani activist for female education and her advocacy has become an international movement.
A native of the Swat Valley in north-west Pakistan, she was only 12 years old when she wrote a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC Urdu detailing her life under Taliban occupation, which at times had banned girls from attending school. Rising to prominence after a New York Times documentary about her life, Malala was shot in the forehead by a gunman on October 9, 2012.
In the days immediately 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.
Meanwhile, 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 Malala and her father. The assassination attempt sparked a national and international outpouring of support for Malala and she arguably became “the most famous teenager in the world”.
United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown launched a UN petition in Malala’s name, demanding that all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015; it helped lead to the ratification of Pakistan’s first Right to Education Bill.
The 2013, 2014 and 2015 issues of Time magazine featured Malala as one of The 100 Most Influential People in the World. Among the many accolades that she received was an honorary doctorate from the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She was the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people.
She was the subject of Oscar-shortlisted 2015 documentary He Named Me Malala. A pupil of Edgbaston High School in Birmingham, she achieved a string of A’s in her GCSE exams.
At an age not considered as a full-fledged adult in some countries, Malala has already made her mark in the world, putting many grown-ups to shame by speaking for those without a voice on their right to learn freely.
Many a world leader can take a leaf out of Malala’s book. Although the Taliban shot her, she still only wants education, not revenge. She doesn’t hate the Taliban; in fact, she wants education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban. She feels that everyone deserves an education and everyone deserves rights, especially women who are deprived of so many.
With this honourable, brave and selfless girl showing the way of doing the right thing, more Malalas are what we need if there is to be a better tomorrow.