Malala Yousafzai

The story of Malala Yousafzai and her fight for women’s education started a long time before she was shot in the head by the Taliban in October of 2012. 

Malala was born on July 12th, 1997 in Mingora, a village in the northern part of Swat, Pakistan. Her voyage into the world of education began when her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, started a school for children. Ziauddin also went around the valley of Swat, speaking about education to the people, who loved to hear him speak, which really inspired Malala, along with her love for the basic school topics.

In 2007, the Taliban gripped hold of the Swat Valley and held very tight control on the people of Swat. They took away the girls right to an education by banning them from going to school, and by the end of 2008, the Taliban had destroyed almost 400 schools. Malala felt the need to stand up and do something for what seemed like one her basic rights by writing for BBC Urdu website under the pseudonym ‘Gul Makai’. She wrote about because of the Taliban, she was afraid to go to school everyday(I Am Malala, pg 155). 


During the years 2008 to 2012, it seemed that Malala had found her voice. On September 1st, 2008, she gave her first speech titled: “How Dare the Taliban Take Away My Basic Right to Education?”(Blumberg) After that speech, she began to speak regularly and was able to make her first televised appearance on Pakistani current events show Capital Talk in early 2009. After the show, the Taliban decided to cutback on the restrictions for girls and let them go to school on the one condition that they wear burkas. In May however, the violence got worse and Malala’s family had to leave their home in Swat and relocate to another part of Pakistan.

Being relocated did not stop Malala. She kept making speeches to the public, making televised appearances, and kept writing for BBC. In December of 2009 her BBC identity had been revealed and she became more popular than ever and gained support from millions for her activism. In October, 2011, Malala was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by human right’s activist Desmond Tutu and in December of the same year she won Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize which was later named the National Malala Peace Prize(Blumberg).

She was able to move back to Swat and return to her school. When I read I Am Malala earlier this year, I was very excited to read this part of the book because she was so passionate writing about it. On October 9th, 2012, Malala was riding home from school in a rickshaw(rickshaws are the equivalent to a school bus) with her friends when a member of the Taliban stepped onto the bus and asked the girls which one was Malala, and when she answered he shot her in the head. She was flown to hospitals in Pakistan but when they couldn’t do anything for her, she was flown immediately to Birmingham, England for surgery. There she was able to recover.

Even after she was shot in the head, she still campaigned for women’s education. On July 12th, 2013 -Malala’s 16th birthday- she made her first appearance since she had been shot. She gave a speech to an audience of 500 at the United Nations in NYC(Blumberg). In 2014, she along with Kailash Satyarthi, won the Nobel Peace Prize(Nobel Media AB) .

.malala-at-un1    Malala at the United Nations, giving her speech on her birthday in July of 2013.  

 A link to Malala’s aceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize- 

The reason I chose to write about Malala is because I admire her strength and courage to fight for the right that many girls and women are denied. She continued to be an advocate for the right to education even after she had almost died. She is one of the biggest role models in my life, showing me that no matter what you face, you can always overcome it.      

Malala day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights.” – (Malala Yousafzai, United Nations speech, 2013, A World At School)






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