Meet Malala, a young girl who despite the worst kind of opposition fought for girls’ rights to education even when it meant facing death.
Malala Yousafzai grew up in the Swat district of North-West Pakistan. Named after a Pashtun heroine, Malala was raised to live up to her name. Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, was always passionate about learning and ran a school in their district. He was known as an advocate for education in Pakistan and became an outspoken opponent of Taliban efforts to stop girls from attending school.
Malala shared her father’s passion for learning and always loved attending school. When, in 2009, the Taliban took hold of Swat, Malala began to right for the BBC Urdu service under a pseudonym about her fears that her school would be attacked. As time when on, television and music were banned and women were not even allowed to go to the market. Despite the increasing oppression and threat of violence, Malala and her father continued to publicly speak out for the right to education. Malala became publicly known as an advocate for girls’ right to education and as an opponent of the Taliban.
On October 9, 2012, Malala and her friends were travelling home from school when a masked gunman entered their school bus and asked for Malala by name. Malala was shot with a single bullet that went through her head, neck and shoulder. Miraculously, Malala survived and was airlifted in critical condition to a hospital in Birmingham, UK where she remained until January of 2013 where her family joined her to remain in the UK.
The Taliban’s attempt to murder Malala received worldwide attention and led to protests across Pakistan, petitions for rights to education signed across the world, and Pakistan’s first Right to Free and Compulsory Education Bill.
Malala now lives in the UK where she continues to attend school and passionately fight for girls’ education. She has even said, “I don’t want revenge on the Taliban, I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban.”
In 2013, her and her father 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 demand change.” Malala then became the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10th 2014.
Malala has provided the world with proof that when a girl receives education, she unlocks her own potential and can even change the world. Malala is a normal girl from a small town in Pakistan who was raised by parents who wanted to empower their daughter through education. She simply wanted girls to be able to attend school and in doing so has changed the way the world sees girls’ education. She is an example to us all that “when the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”