Who is Malala Yousafzai?
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani education advocate who, at the age of 17 in 2014, became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize after surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban. Yousafzai became an advocate for girls’ education while she was still a child herself, which resulted in death threats against her by the Taliban. On October 9, 2012, a gunman shot Yousafzai as she was returning to her home from school. She survived and has continued to speak out about the importance of education. In 2013, she delivered a speech at the United Nations and published her first book, I am malala.
“Dear friends, on 9 October 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends, too. They thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed. And out of that silence came thousands of voices. The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions. But nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born. I am the same Malala. My ambitions are the same. My hopes are the same.”
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“So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”
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” data-full-height=”1400″ data-full-src=”https://www.biography.com/.image/c_limit%2Ccs_srgb%2Cfl_progressive%2Ch_2000%2Cq_auto:good%2Cw_2000/MTYwNTEzOTk5NDcxOTEyNDk0/mcdhena_fs033.jpg” data-full-width=”2000″ data-image-id=”ci023a42a2100024ab” data-image-slug=”MCDHENA_FS033″ data-public-id=”MTYwNTEzOTk5NDcxOTEyNDk0″ data-source-name=”Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures/Everett” data-title=”Malala on Her Story”/>“The world needs leadership based on serving humanity — not based on how many weapons you have.”
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10 Inspirational Quotes From Malala Yousafzai
Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997 in Mingora, Pakistan, located in the country’s Swat Valley.
During the early years of his life, Yousafzai’s hometown remained a popular tourist spot known for its summer festivals. The area began to change when the Taliban tried to take control.
Yousafzai attended a school that had been founded by his father, the educator Ziauddin Yousafzai. After the Taliban began attacking girls’ schools in Swat, Yousafzai gave a speech in Peshawar, Pakistan, in September 2008. The title of his talk was: “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?”
In early 2009, when she was just 11 years old, Yousafzai began writing a blog for the BBC about living under threats from the Taliban to deny her an education. To hide his identity, he used the name Gul Makai. However, it was revealed that she was the blogger for the BBC in December of that year.
With a growing public platform, Yousafzai continued to speak out about her right, and the right of all women, to education. Her activism resulted in a nomination for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011. That same year, she received Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize.
Yousafzai and her family learned that the Taliban had threatened her with death for her activism. Although Yousafzai feared for the safety of her father, an anti-Taliban activist, she and her family initially felt that the fundamentalist group would not actually harm a child.
Shot by the Taliban
On October 9, 2012, as 15-year-old Yousafzai was riding a bus with friends on her way home from school, a masked gunman got on the bus and demanded to know who Yousafzai was. When his friends looked towards Yousafzai, his location was revealed. The gunman fired and hit Malala in the left side of the head; the bullet then traveled down his neck. Two other girls were also injured in the attack.
The shooting left Yousafzai in critical condition and she was airlifted to a military hospital in Peshawar. She had a part of her skull removed to treat her swollen brain. To receive more attention, she was transferred to Birmingham, England.
Once in the UK, Yousafzai was brought out of a medically induced coma. Although she would need multiple surgeries, including facial nerve repair to fix the paralyzed left side of her face, she had not suffered any major brain damage. In March 2013, she was able to start attending school in Birmingham.
The shooting resulted in an outpouring of support for Yousafzai, which continued throughout his recovery. Unfortunately, the Taliban still consider Yousafzai a target, although Yousafzai remains a strong advocate of the power of education.
speech at the UN
Nine months after being shot by the Taliban, Yousafzai gave a speech at the United Nations on her 16th birthday in 2013. Yousafzai highlighted her focus on education and women’s rights, urging world leaders to change their policies.
After the attack, Yousafzai said that “the terrorists thought that they would change our goals and stop our ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born.
Yousafzai also urged action against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism:
“Extremists were, and are, afraid of books and pens. The power of education scares them. They are afraid of women… Let’s collect our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons.”
In Yousafzai’s 2013 speech at the United Nations, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pronounced ‘Malala Day’ on July 12, Yousafzai’s birthday, in honor of the young leader’s activism to ensure education for all kids. In the announcement, Ban said:
“Malala chose to celebrate her 16th birthday with the world. No child should have to die to go to school. Nowhere should teachers fear to teach or children fear to learn. Together, we can change the landscape.”
In October 2013, the European Parliament awarded Yousafzai the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in recognition of his work. In October 2014, Yousafzai became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, at just 17 years old; he received the award along with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi.
Yousafzai was first nominated for the Nobel in 2013, but did not win. She was re-elected in March 2014. Congratulating Yousafzai, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said: “She is (the) pride of Pakistan, she has made her compatriots proud. Her achievement is unparalleled and unmatched. The girls and boys of the world should take the lead in their struggle and commitment.” Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described Yousafzai as “a brave and kind advocate of peace who, simply because she going to school, he became a global teacher figure.”
In April 2017, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres appointed Yousafzai as a UN Messenger of Peace to promote girls’ education. The appointment is the highest honor bestowed by the United Nations for an initial term of two years.
Yousafzai was also awarded honorary Canadian citizenship in April 2017. She is the sixth person and the youngest in Canadian history to receive the honour.
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The Malala Fund
In 2013, Yousafzai and her father launched the Malala Fund, which works to ensure that girls everywhere have access to 12 years of free, safe and quality education. The fund prioritizes assistance to its Gulmakai Network, a reference to the pen name Yousafzai used when she wrote her BBC blog about life in Pakistan under Taliban rule. It is in these countries, including Afghanistan, Brazil, India, Lebanon, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey, that the majority of girls do not attend secondary education.
For her 18th birthday, in July 2015, Yousafzai continued to take action on global education by opening a school for Syrian refugee girls in Lebanon. With expenses covered by the Malala Fund, the school was designed to admit about 200 girls aged 14-18. “Today on my first day as an adult, on behalf of the children of the world, I demand from the leaders that we must invest in books instead of bullets,” Yousafzai proclaimed in one of the school’s classrooms.
That day, she wrote in The Malala Fund website:
“The shocking truth is that world leaders have the money to fully fund primary AND secondary education around the world, but they choose to spend it on other things, like their military budgets. In fact, if everyone stopped spending money on the military for just 8 days, we could have the $39 billion still needed to provide 12 years of free, quality education to every child on the planet.”
Return to Pakistan
On March 29, 2018, Yousafzai returned to Pakistan for the first time since his brutal 2012 attack. Not long after arriving, he met with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and delivered an emotional speech at his office.
“In the last five years, I always dreamed of going back to my country,” he said, adding: “I never wanted to leave.”
Yousafzai also visited his former home and a military-run cadet school in Mingora during his four-day trip.
‘I am Malala’
I am Malala: the girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban is an autobiography by Malala Yousafzai published in October 2013. It became an international bestseller. The book was abridged in 2018 for young chapter book readers like Malala: My story of standing up for girls’ rights.
‘Malala’s Magic Pencil’
Yousafzai published a children’s picture book about her life in October 2017. Malala’s magic pencil presents his childhood in Pakistan through a well-known television program in which a boy uses his magic pencil to help people. In the book, the magic pencil instructs readers on how to make the world a better place. “My voice became so powerful that dangerous men tried to silence me. But they failed,” Yousafzai writes.
‘We are displaced’
Published in 2018, We Are Displaced: My Journey and Stories of Refugee Girls Around the World explores Yousafzai’s story, as well as the stories of the girls she met on her trips to refugee camps in Colombia, Guatemala, Syria, and Yemen.
Documentary ‘He Named Me Malala’
In October 2015, a documentary on Yousafzai’s life was released. MY NAME IS MALALA, Directed by Davis Guggenheim (an inconvenient truth, waiting for superman), gave viewers an intimate look into Yousafzai’s life, her family, and her commitment to supporting girls’ education around the world.
University and personal life
Yousafzai began studying at Oxford University in 2017, graduating in June 2020 with a BA in philosophy, politics and economics. yousafzai has married in November 2021 to Asser Malik.