The youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate, Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for the education of girls and women. In a culture where girls were at one time banned from attending school, Malala’s efforts at education reform for girls has become an international movement. Injuries she suffered in 2012 following an assassination attempt by a Taliban gunman, ignited an outpouring of support for Malala and her cause. Dubbed the most famous teenager in the world, she used the ensuing fame to become a rising activist for the education of women and girls.
Her story is chronicled in the documentary, He Named Me Malala. Other notable achievements include:
- Named one of Time magazine’s Most Influential Global People from 2013 to 2015
- Received Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize in 2012
- Was the co-recipient, along with Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Prize in 2014
Of Sunni Muslim decent, Malala was named after a famous Pashtun poet from southern Afghanistan. Educated for the most part by her father, also an education activist, who ran a chain of private schools, she has always held education near to her heart. She began her teaching career as a trainee and peer educator in spite of her father’s wish for her to enter politics.
Malala began blogging in 2009 by writing notes by hand and secreting them to a reporter who would then email and scan them. Her blog was published under a pseudonym and chronicled her thoughts on the First Battle of Swat and the ban on girls receiving an education which began in January of 2009. Prior to this edict being handed down, the Taliban had already blown up in excess of one hundred schools for girls.
Malala Yousafzai has the courage and daring to stand up to opposition and demand – even create – the education girls deserve. Becoming a visible, public speaker on the issue of education, Malala placed her very life in danger. In the summer of 2012, Taliban leaders unanimously agreed to execute Yousafzai. While riding a bus home, she was shot through the head, neck, and shoulder. Although severely injured, she never stopped advocating for what she believed in.
Using her voice and her education to speak out for others, Malala reminds us that “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” The attempted assassination drew media coverage and attention from all over the world. Her cause is gaining attention and reforms are being made. This influential woman started the Malala Fund on the day of her 18th birthday. Malala Yousafzai All-Girls School near the Syrian border provides a quality secondary education to Syrian girls. This incredible young woman has made a huge difference in the world in a very short amount of time.
Be inspired by her outstanding example. You, like women and girls all over the world, can use the knowledge and wisdom you possess to make changes that reach beyond your own walls. Her courage in the face of obstacles, an assassination attempt, and other daunting hurdles is admirable. As she famously stated, “Let us make our future now, and let us make our dreams tomorrow’s reality.”