Malala Yousafzai – Significant facts
Famous as: Activist / Spokesperson
Full Name: Malala Yousafzai
Date of Birth: July 12, 1997
Birthplace: Mingora, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
Race or Ethnicity: Pashtun
Father: Ziauddin Yousafzai
Mother: Thorpekai Yousafzai
Youngest Nobel laureate in the history
Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani school girl, spokesperson and activist. Her name resonated around the world when a Taliban gunman shot her in vengeance for her impressive campaign for women education and criticism of the Taliban. She survived the attack and became even more active and stronger in her campaigns. She received several peace awards as well as shared the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize with an Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi. She is the Youngest Nobel laureate in the history (till 2914).
Early life of Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai was born in a Sunni Muslim family in 1997 in Swat Valley, Pakistan. She lived with her parents, two younger brothers and two pet chickens in Mingora, Swat Valley. Malala, her first name, means “Grief stricken”; she was named after a Pashtun warrior woman and poetess, Malalai of Malwand. Yousafzai, her last name, is the name of a predominant Pashtun tribal confederation in Swat Valley. Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, is a school owner, poet and an educational activist. He runs a chain of schools referred to as Khushal Public School. Malala was admitted to the same school at an early age of 5. She was always a top grader and did very well in studies. When she was little, she wanted to become a doctor; however, her father motivated her towards politics. Ziauddin considers his daughter to be very special. He permitted her to stay awake at night and discuss about politics.
In September 2008, Malala Yousafzai went on to speak about education rights at the local press club in Peshawar. It was her father who arranged for this. Her speech was covered by television channels and newspapers across the region whereby she asked the audience, “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?”
Struggle for Education and Rights of Women
In 2009, Taliban started to ban girls from going to schools in Swat Valley. Malala Yousafzai was also one of the girls that were banned from attending school. Her education got affected severely during that time. When the military operation was all set to start in the valley in 2009, for many days, she did not go to school. It was during that time that she wrote blogs under the byline “Gul Makai” for the BBC website. In her blogs, she expressed her views on women’s rights and education and how life was under threat as Taliban was taking over the valley.
Malala Yousafzai struggled in the process of restoring peace in Swat. She also worked with many other girls to get back to school. She did not fear to talk openly about the Taliban militants that were posing a huge threat to the women in the region. They blew up several girls schools; as a result, many people stayed at home frightened of possible reprisals from the militants. Nevertheless, for some time, the Taliban stated that girls may receive primary education provided they wore Burkhas to school. Still, a sense of fear prevailed among the occupants of the Swat Valley. Malala and her father started receiving death threats from the Taliban. Her father suggested moving Malala to some other place but she refused strongly and decided to stay in the valley.
When the BBC blog came to an end, she featured in a small documentary created by Adam B. Ellick, a reporter from New York Times. Eventually, she received enormous international coverage. Plus, her identity of writing BBC blogs got revealed. Malala Yousafzai received National Youth Peace Prize in 2011, first ever of its kind in Pakistan. Archbishop Desmond Tutu nominated her for International Children’s Peace Prize the same year. All these aspects increased her profile; consequently, Taliban leaders met in 2012 and decided to kill her.
Malala Yousafzai – Shooting and Survival
On October 9, 2012, a masked gunman got on her school bus. He asked “Which one of you is Malala? Speak up, otherwise I will shoot at you all.” He identified her and shot her with bullets that went through her head and shoulder. She survived the shooting, however, was in a very critical condition. Her father lost hope that she would come alive and in fact started preparing for her funeral. Her critical organs started failing. To make matters worse, she developed an infection. She went to coma and was shifted from Peshawar to a hospital in Rawalpindi. On October 15, she was taken to Birmingham in the UK for further treatment. Two days later, Malala Yousafzai came out of coma and to everyone’s delight and surprise, she responded very well to treatment. On January 3, 2013, she was discharged and lived in a temporary home with her family in the West Midlands.
On July 12, 2013, the 16th birthday of Malala Yousafzai, she made her first public speech ever since the attack to call for worldwide right to education at the UN. The event was dubbed as “Malala Day” by the UN.
In October 2014, Malala Yousafzai was announced the Nobel Peace Prize. She shared it with an Indian activist. When the prize was announced, she was in the middle of her chemistry class at the Edgbaston High School for Girls, Birmingham, England. However, she did not leave the school until the school hours got over. She received about $550,000 as Prize money.
Malala Yousafzai: Incredible facts
- She started writing blogs under a pseudonym when she was just nine years old.
- She delivered her first ever public speech that criticized the Taliban when she was 11 years old.
- In 2011, she was a nominee for International Children’s Peace Prize; in 2013, she won the award!
- TIMES Magazine listed Malala Yousafzai as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the world.
- She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 and won the Prize in 2014.
- Her inspiring story caused a real uproar that resulted in the Prime Minister of UK and the President of the US denouncing Taliban practices.
- Madonna tattooed on her back in order to create more awareness on Taliban oppression of women. This led to the “I am Malala” movement.
- “I AM MALALA” is Malala’s biography authored by Malala herself and co-authored by Christina Lamb.
Famous Quotes of Malala Yousafzai
“We realize the importance of our voices only when we are silenced.”
“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”