Malala Yousafzi is the world’s youngest Nobel Peace laureate in the history of the prize. She is a Pakistani blogger who hails from Mingora, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in North-Western Pakistan. She was born in 1997 to Ziauddin Yousafzai and Tor Pekai. Her father is an avid education activist who runs several private schools in the region.
She came into prominence for defending women’s rights in the Taliban-controlled region, especially the education of all women. The Taliban had previously banned all girls from attending schools or even from going shopping. Her thoughts were passed to the rest of the world through the BBC Urdu blog where she posted her thoughts under a pseudonym (Bush, 2011).
The blog detailed her experiences as a girl under Taliban rule and how this rule affected her education as well as those of other girls in her vicinity. From 2008, many newspapers and television stations from her homeland covered her speeches. In her speeches, she would constantly criticize the Taliban government for denying her basic right to education. Her activism led her to be nominated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011.
With increased local and global recognition came increased danger for both her and her family members. She and her father received numerous death threats with some of them being published in the local newspapers. She also received numerous threats on Facebook and numerous fake accounts were created under her name. None of these threats seemed to deter her from her activism. Therefore, in 2012, a Taliban meeting was convened whereby the consensus was to kill the young activist.
On October 2012, while she was on a school bus heading home after an exam, a gunman boarded the bus and asked for her directly by name. The gunman demanded that she identify herself or he would shoot every passenger on the bus. Once she was identified, the gunman fired three shots at her. One bullet hit her forehead and ended up lodged into her shoulder. Two other female passengers were wounded in the attempted assassination. The assassin along with his cohorts was later arrested with some of them ending up in jail for the rest of their lives.
Luckily, she survived the attack but was in a fight for her life. She received treatment in the United Kingdom for both medical and security reasons. The hospital specializes in military injuries and is under tight government security. The attack on the teenager led to widespread condemnation both locally in Pakistan and around the world. There were angry protests all around Pakistan, which led to the signing of a right to education petition that was signed by more than 2 million locals. The Pakistani National Assembly was forced to sign into law the first Right to Free and Compulsory Education within weeks after the attack due to the unrelenting public pressure.
In 2014, after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, she started a fund known as the Malala Fund. This global fund is meant to support girls all over the world in their endeavor to gain access to education. The fund is also supposed to bring awareness on the economic and social impact of girls’ access to education (Brown, 2014). She has gone to many countries around the world advocating for the rights of every child especially in war stricken areas. For instance, she visited Nigeria where she asked President Jonathan Goodluck to do everything in his power to ensure the release of the girls kidnapped by the terrorist group, Boko Haram.
Brown, G. (2014). Malala: Everyone’s Daughter in the Fight for Girls’ Education. New Perspectives Quarterly, 7(6): 59-60.
Bush, E. (2011). Malala, a brave girl from Pakistan; Iqbal, a brave boy from Pakistan. Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, 236.