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Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani human and women’s rights activist focusing on female education. She was attacked and shot on her way to school in 2012 for her outspoken advocacy for women and her opposition to the Taliban. She is the youngest person to receive The Nobel Peace Prize and she also was awarded the Sakharov Prize and the first National Youth Peace Prize of Pakistan.

Biography of Malala Yousafzai’s Early Life

Malala Yousafzai was born in Mingora, Swat District, Pakistan on July 12, 1997. Her family is of the Pashtun tribe and Sunni Muslims. The first born of three children to her parents, Ziauddin Yousafzai and Tor Pekai, she has two brothers named Khushual and Atal.[1] Her father, is a poet and educational activist who owns several private schools. Yousafzai is fluent in Urdu, Pashto, and English.[2]

Malala Yousafzai was encouraged from a young age to be politically active and well educated by her activist father.

Malala Yousafzai gave her first speech in September 2008 at a local press conference in Peshawar, where she addressed the Taliban limiting girl’s education.[3] The following year, Malala Yousafzai trained and became a peer educator for Open Minds Pakistan program of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting that taught young activists how to use facts, public debate, dialogue, and journalism to constructively discuss social issues.[4]

BBC Urdu Blog

The BBC Urdu decided in 2008 to recruit a local school girl in Swat to anonymously blog about her life as the Taliban’s control increased. Their Peshawar correspondent spoke to Ziauddin Yousafzai who struggled to find a female student willing to participate since their families all considered it too dangerous.[5] During the same time, Maulana Fazlullah and his Taliban troops took over Swat Valley and banned music, television, shopping for women, and education for girls.[6] When the parent’s of a teen who originally volunteer to start a journal forced her to withdraw, Malala Yousafzai volunteered to create a biography of her experience during the First Battle of Swat.[7] They posted her first entry on January 3, 2009, only 12 days before the Taliban’s edict banning girls from attending school.[8] The Taliban continued to destroy schools in the area and after a month only the boy’s schools had plans to reopen on February 9. Malala appeared on the Pakistani show, Capital Talk, on February 18 to condemn the Taliban for preventing girls from getting educated. The local Taliban leader announced three days later that girls could attend school until the March 17 exams, but required them to wear burqas. Yousafzai continued to blog until March 12, 2009, while she attended school and the Taliban and local military fought despite the peace deal in February.[9]

Documentary and Activism

When the blog ended, Adam B. Ellick of the New York Times asked Yousafzai and her father to participate in a documentary. Soon after, during the Second Battle of Swat, her family fled Mingora and became separated as her father went Peshawar to advocate for support and protest. On July 24, 2009, the family returned home after the Pakistani military pushed out the Taliban and Yousafzai met with Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan, to plead for girls’ education.[10] Malala Yousafzai appeared on Pakistani television several times during 2009 to advocate for female education, including AVT Khyber, Daily Aaj, and Capital Talk. Her identity as the anonymous BBC blogger was revealed in December.[11] She was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by Desmond Tutu, an activist from South Africa, in October 2011. She won the first National Youth Peace Prize of Pakistan in December.[12]

Facts about Malala Yousafzai and her Assassination Attempt

After many death threats and attempts to stop Malala from speaking out, the Taliban held a meeting in the middle of 2012 to plot her assassination.[13]

Malala Yousafzai never allows fear to dictate her decisions and inspires many others to do the same.

On October 9, 1912, a gunman entered the school bus with Malala Yousafzai and shot her after threatening to kill everyone if she did not step forward. She was shot once through the head, neck, and shoulder. Yousafzai was flown to Peshawar where she underwent surgery at a military hospital.[14] By October 17, 2012, after being to several hospitals and finally stopping in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England, she awoke from her coma.[15] She required reconstructive surgery on her skull and a cochlear implant on February 2, 2013.[16]

Later Political Activism and The Nobel Peace Prize

In July 2013, Malala Yousafzai met at Buckingham Palace with Queen Elizabeth II and gave a speech at the United Nations.[17]She spoke again at Harvard University in September and met with President Obama in October to confront him regarding Pakistani drone strikes.[18]She spoke at London’s Girl Summit in July 2014. Yousafzai donated $50,000 to rebuild 65 schools in Gaza after winning the Swedish World Children’s Prize.[19] On October 10, 2014, Malala Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian child right’s advocate, making her the youngest Nobel laureate in history.[20]Her activism continues and on July 12, 2015, she opened a school for Syrian refugees funded by her nonprofit, the Malala Fund, in Bekka Valley, Lebanon.[21]

References

Bibliography

Ellick, A. B., & Ashraf, I. (2012, October 9). Class Dismissed: Malala’s Story. The New York Times.

IWPR. (2014). Young Journalist Inspires Fellow Students. The Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
 Peer, B. (2012, October 10). The Girl Who Wanted to Go to School. The New Yorker. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-girl-who-wanted-to-go-to-school

Footnotes

  1. Ellick & Ashraf, 2012
  2. Coulson, A. J. (2013, November 7). “Why Malala Didn’t Go to Public School.” Cato Institute.
  3. Westhead, R. (2009, October 26). “Brave defiance in Pakistan’s Swat Valley.” The Toronto Star.
  4. IWPR, 2014
  5. van Gilder Cooke, S. (2012, October 23). Pakistani Heroine: How Malala Emerged from Anonymity. Time, Inc.
  6. Peer, 2012
  7. IWPR, 2014
  8. Peer, 2012
  9. Yousafzai, M. (2009, January 19). Diary of a Pakistani School Girl. BBC South Asia.
  10. Ellick & Ashraf, 2012
  11. IWPR, 2014
  12. Peer, 2012
  13. Reuters. (2012, October 12). “Radio Mullah” sent hit squad after Malala Yousafzai. The Express Tribune.
  14. Mackey, R., & Ellick, A. B. (2012, October 11). Pakistani Girl Airlifted to Military Hospital. The Lede, The New York Times.
  15. Bennett, D. (2012, October 17). Malala Yousufzai Comes Out of Her Coma. The Wire.
  16. Post Staff Report. (2013, February 3). Girl shot by Taliban in stable condition after two operations to reconstruct skull and restore hearing. The New York Post.
  17. Le Point (2013, October 11). Malala, une entreprise. Le Point.fr.
  18. CNN Political Unit (2013, October 11). Malala Confronts Obama. CNN.
  19. Meikle, J. (2014, October 30). Malala Yousafzai Gives $50,000 to Reconstruction of Gaza Schools. The Guardian.
  20. Nobel Media AB. (2014). Malala Yousafzai - Prize Presentation. Nobelprize.org - Nobel Prizes and Laureates.
  21. Westall, S. (2015, July 13). Nobel winner Malala opens school for Syrian refugees. Reuters.