She is the teenager who marked her 16th birthday with a live address from UN headquarters, is known around the world by her first name alone, and has been lauded by a former British prime minister as “an icon of courage and hope”.
She is Malala Yousafzai, whose life was forever changed at age 15 by a Taliban bullet on 9 October 2012.
Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997 in Mingora, Pakistan. Yousafzai was the first of three children born to Ziauddin and Tor Pekai Yousafzai. Although it was not always easy to raise a girl child in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai’s father insisted that she received all of the same opportunities afforded to boy children.
Her father was a teacher and education advocate that ran a girls’ school in their village. Due to his influence, Yousafzai was passionate about knowledge from a very young age, and she would often waddle into her father’s classes before she could even talk. However, by the time she was ten years old, Taliban extremists began to take control of the Swat Valley and many of her favorite things were banned. Girls were no longer able to attend school, and owning a television, playing music and dancing were all prohibited. Girl’s education was specifically targeted by the Taliban and by the end of 2008 they had destroyed over 400 schools.
Yousafzai started by blogging anonymously for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in early 2009. She used the penname, “Gul Makai,” and spoke about her life under Taliban rule and how much she wanted to attend school. Her first BBC diary entry entitled, “I Am Afraid,” detailed her nightmares about a full-blown war in her hometown. Her nightmares started to become reality, as Yousafzai and her family were soon forced to leave their home due to rising tensions between Pakistan and the Taliban.
This did not stop Yousafzai from advocating for her right to attend school. Over the next few years, she and her father began speaking out on behalf of girls’ education in the media. They campaigned for Pakistani girls’ access to a free quality education. Yousafzai was now a household name. However, this also made her a target.
On October 9, 2012, fifteen-year old Yousafzai was on the bus returning from school with her friends. Two members of the Taliban stopped the bus and asked, “Who is Malala?” When they identified Yousafzai, they shot her in the head. Fortunately, she was airlifted to a Pakistani military hospital and then taken to an intensive care unit in England.
After ten days in a medically induced coma, Yousafzai woke up in a hospital in Birmingham, England. She had suffered no major brain damage, but the left side of her face was paralyzed, and she would require many reparative surgeries and rehabilitation. After months of medical treatment, Yousafzai was able to return to her family that now lived in England. In March 2013, Yousafzai began attending school in Birmingham. Although she was now able to attend school in England, she decided to keep fighting “until every girl could go to school.”
On her sixteenth birthday, Yousafzai spoke at the United Nations in New York. That same year she published her autobiography entitled, “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.” She was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought by the European Parliament for her activism.
In December of 2014, Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work. At age seventeen, she became the youngest person to be named a Nobel laureate. Since then, Yousafzai has continued to advocate for the rights of women and girls.
Now you might find this story inspiring, and now wish to enroll yourself into doing something useful for yourself. And if that something useful you’re looking for is a school, college, or university, find the best possible option for you using addyp.com.