On October 9, 2012, a 14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl rode a bus home from school. A Talibani man boarded the bus and demanded the identity of one, Malala. She was spotted. Three bullets were shot, one traversing across the length of her face. It was over. Unbeknownst to the shooter, it was only the beginning of a mightier battle.
Malala’s journey began in the Swat Valley of Pakistan where an oppressive Taliban attempted to ban the notion of female education. For herself, and every other girl who was being denied the right to education, she wished to take a stand. Encouraged by her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, an 11-year-old Malala consented to write anonymous blogs for BBC Urdu recounting the lives of ordinary people under the influence of Taliban.
As her cause gained public recognition, she became more vocal, advocating every girl’s right to education in interviews. In December 2009, she was also featured in a New York Times documentary by Adam Ellick titled ‘Class Dismissed’. Her advocacy for the cause brought her immense popularity but, therein lay the danger. Taliban perceived her as a threat and attempted to silence her for good.
The assassination attempt gained her international fame as people around the globe prayed for her recovery. Their prayers were answered when in January, 2013, Yousafzai was discharged. She had made a full recovery. Malala returned more determined than ever. On her 16th birthday, she spoke at the United Nations, calling to assist people who have been denied the simplest of rights, the one to education. United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, declared July 12 as ‘Malala Day’ to honour her cause. Later that year, she received the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. She was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, an award she claimed in 2014 following her second nomination. At 17, she became the youngest recipient of the award.
On July 12, 2015, she worked towards her aim to educate the children of the world by opening a school in Lebanon for Syrian refugee girls. She accomplished this with the help of ‘The Malala Fund’ that she started to enable others to join her fight. Her story has been immortalized in her autobiography ‘I Am Malala’.
Today, Malala continues to advocate everyone’s right to education. She persuaded the whole world to hear her voice among many other children whom she represents. “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful,” she says.
She has been listed among the Time’s ‘100 most Influential People in the World’. At the age of 19, Malala has single-handedly brought the entire world’s attention to ensuring the delivery of education to every child. It is truly remarkable to think of all the lives she has touched in such a short time. She is indeed an inspiration to us all!