Women’s History Month
Malala Yousafzai Is the Youngest Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Ever
She doesn’t let danger deter her from fighting for a girl’s right to an education
Nelson Mandala once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” For many girls in Afghanistan, Malala’s name stands for their right to an education. She stands for their ability to change the world, but her life almost ended in tragedy.
On October 9, 2012, when Malala was just 15-years-old, a masked gunman stopped her school bus. He got on waving a gun and demanded to be told which girl was Malala. Other girls, in their fear, told him. He shot her in the head and neck, hitting two other girls as well in his attempt to silence her voice.
The gunman escaped and in the following days, the Taliban issued a statement saying they would continue to hunt her down if she survived. But she did not die. In fact, the attempt made her more determined to speak out. Her voice became loud enough for the whole world to hear.
There is a moment when you have to choose whether to stand up or be silent.
Malala’s activism started early
She was born on July 12, 1997 in Mingora, Pakistan. Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, believed strongly in education for girls as well as boys. He was a teacher and ran a school for girls in her town in the Swat Valley where fewer than 5% of all girls went to school.
She loved school, even the homework. But her town became increasingly violent as the Taliban gained more and more control. In January 2012, she left school for winter break not knowing if she would ever return.
Her father believed that for things to change, she would need to become a politician. At only 11-years-old, she began blogging her diary for the BBC Urdu site. Her blog, under the pen name Gul Makai, explained what life like for her in the Taliban controlled region.
Her father encouraged her to speak up. She spoke at press conferences and give speeches advocating for the education of girls. Her school organized a peace march to protest the violence in her city. She spoke to religious leaders and in BBC interviews.