The Woman Behind the News: Who is Malala, really?
by Ag Park
You may know Malala as a Pakistani activist for female education or as the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace prize. But there’s much more to who she is including the following:
Malala Yousafzai was born on July 12, 1997 in Mingora, north-west Pakistan. Her father named her after Malalai, a Pashtun heroine. Malala’s father, Ziauddin is an extraordinary man: he used to run a school in his community and spoke against the Taliban for the right to education. Malala learned a lot from her father and became motivated to fight for the right to education.
Her first attempt to speak against the Taliban was when she wrote a blog for the BBC Urdu service under a pseudonym; she spoke about how she feared that the school she attended would be bombed by the Taliban. She talked about several other issues as well including the fact that television and music were banned, women were not allowed going shopping by themselves, and many schools were closed. Even when Ziauddin was told to close the school and stop allowing girls to go to school, Malala and several of her friends went. Even when Malala and her father received death threats, they continued to speak out for the right to education.
Malala suffered the consequences for continuing to fight for education. On October 9, 2012, as Malala and her friends were coming home from school, a gunman entered the school bus and asked for Malala’s name. When he found out who she was, he shot her on the head, neck, and shoulder. Two of her friends also got injured in the process.
Malala was in critical condition, but she survived. The Taliban’s attempt to kill Malala became known worldwide and many protests formed across Pakistan. Several weeks later, over two million people signed a right to education petition and the National Assembly passed Pakistan’s first bill that stated their right to free and compulsory education.
Malala’s courage and determination to give all girls the right to education was recognized all over the world. In 2011, she became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Malala also established the Malala Fund to bring awareness to the need to give all girls education no matter what social class or race they are in. She continues to fight for the right to education today and inspires people all over the world to do the same.
Malala has written a book titled, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban which is about her life experiences and what it was like to live in an area where girls were banned from going to school. If you still want to find out more about Malala and her life, I encourage you to read her book.