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Extraordinary Malala: The brave young Nobel prize winner who defied the Taliban

4 min read

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Extraordinary Malala: The brave young Nobel prize winner who defied the Taliban
Source: Flickr United Nations

The Pakistani activist who’s been campaigning for global education since she was barely a teenager.

An extraordinay person with an extraordinary story

You have probably heard the name Malala, and you may have some sort of idea of what she does and what she has done. But if there were ever a person whose story is worth telling, it’s the story of Malala Yousafzai.

Malala Yousafzai You may know her name, you may know some of her story, but it's a story more than worth knowing entirely. Source: Facebook BrightVibes

Gul Makai

Malala Yousafzai was born in Mingora, Pakistan in 1997 to parents Ziauddin and ToorPekai Yousafzai. Ziauddin is a teacher and names his daughter Malala after Malalai, a Pashtin heroine. He is determined to give his daughter every opportunity that a boy would have; as in Pakistan, baby girls aren’t always as welcomed as baby boys.

She grew up in Swat Valley, which is referred to as the “Switzerland of the east” by Queen Elizabeth II due to its incredible nature. Malala grows up sharing her father’s love of learning and reads a great deal.

In 2007 the Taliban took control of this area. They ban many things such as television and music and enforce harsh punishments for people who defy their orders. Late 2008, they ban girls from going to school. Malala begins to blog for the BBC about life under the Taliban. She uses the pseudonym Gul Makai (cornflower) to protect her identity. She writes in diary style about the acts of violence of the Taliban and how she feels in the final days before her school is set to close.

 In 2009, the Pakistani army moves in to Swat Valley to fight the Taliban and for almost two years, fighting ensues. Over one million inhabitants of Swat have to flee their homes to other parts of the country, the Yousafzai family included.

 The New York Times features Malala and Ziauddin in a short documentary after reading Malala’sblog for the BBC. The documentary is about their life and fight to protect girls’ education in Swat.

 Her BBC blogging identity is revealed in 2009 and Malala begins to appear on television to publicly advocate for female education.

Source: Malala fund + biography

Malala’s speech at the UN Malala delivers a powerful speech as her first public appearance since she was targeted by the Taliban. Source: Youtube New York Times

Targeted

At the end of November, the Pakistani army weakens the Taliban’s stronghold in Swat Valley and Ziauddin’s school reopens. Malala keeps speaking out against the Taliban and publicly campaigns for girls to go to school. This wins her Pakistan’s first National Youth Prize. She is nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by Desmond Tutu. The announcement said:

“Malala dared to stand up for herself and other girls and used national and international media to let the world know girls should also have the right to go to school.”

On Oktober 9th 2012, a masked Taliban gunman boards her school bus and asks for her by name. He shoots her in the head, neck and shoulder. Two of her friends are hurt in the process as well.

 Luckily, Malala survives, but remains unconscious and in critical condition in the Rawalpind institute of Cardiology. Her condition later improves enough for her to be sent to a Hospital in the UK. People all over the world are shocked and appalled by what happened to her, and prayed for her recovery. After many surgeries and months of rehabilitation, Malala fully recovers and rejoins her family at their home in Birmingham, U.K.

In March 2013,Malala goes to school for the first time since the attack. She becomes a prominent education activist, as the attack hasn’t scared her, but ignited a fire:

“Weakness,fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”

On July 12th, her sixteenth birthday, Malala delivers a powerful speech at the United Nations to call for worldwide access to education. It is her first public appearance since the attack. The United Nations declare July 12th “Malala Day” to honor the young activist’s commitment to education and she promises to dedicate this day each year to the world’s most vulnerable girls. And she has upheld her promise more than double.

Source: Malala fund + biography

Malala’s speech when she wins the Nobel Peace Prize In 2014, Malala wins the Nobel Peace Prize. She delivers a powerful speech upon winning that moves the audience to tears. Source: Youtube Malala Fund

Malala fund

Malala and her father Ziauddin set up the Malala fund, an organization that is dedicated to give all girls access to education. The next few years, the uses the fund to meet with girls around the world and many head of state to carry her message of girls’ education and equality. On her 17th birthday, she meets with the families of the victims of the mass kidnappings of schoolgirls by terroristgroup Boko Haram. She adds her voice to the outcry demanding for their safe return.

She co-authored I am Malala, an international bestseller. In 2013, 2014 ánd 2015, Times magazine featured her as one of the most influential people globally. In 2014 she was announced as the co-recipient of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize, for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education. She was 17 at the time and became the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. She invited girls from Syria, Nigeria and Pakistan to attend the ceremony in Oslo.

She marks her 18th birthday by opening a secondary school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. On her 19th birthday she meets with refugee girls living in the Dadaab and Kakuma camps in Kenya and the Mahama camp in Rwanda.

In September 2016, Malala launches a campaign encouraging people around the world to support education for #YesAllGirls. For her Girl Power Trip, Malala travels to North America, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Her mission was to meet girls and listen to their stories so as to bring these messages and concerns to world leaders. The girls told her about barriers to their education, like violence, poverty, child marriage and machismo culture. Malala held over a dozen meetings with presidents and prime ministers to urge them to invest in girls’ education. In six months she visited 130 million girls in 4 continents.

In 2017 she was awarded honorary Canadian citizenship and became the youngest person to address the House of Commons of Canada. In August, she gained admission to Oxford, to study for a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

Malala has received over 40 awards and honors for her bravery and activism.

Source: Malala fund

Make an Impact

Support Malala's fight for girls' education

With more than 130 million girls out of school today, she needs your help to reach the most vulnerable girls denied an education. Via this link you can donate to her cause