On July 12th 1997, in Mingora, Pakistan, a soon to be Nobel Peace Prize winner was born. This week, Malala Yousafzai – a 17 year old women’s and childrens’ rights activist – found out that she will become the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner ever along with Indian childrens’ rights activist Kailash Satyarthi, whilst she was sat at her desk in a Chemistry lesson in Birmingham, England.
The Pakistani Prime Minister was quoted in a statement as saying that “her achievement is unparalleled and unequalled. Girls and boys of the world should take the lead from her struggle and commitment”.
At just 14 years old, the teenager’s family learned that the Taliban had issued a death threat towards her and her household. And on October 9th, 2012 – on her way home from school – a man boarded the bus and shot Malala in the head and left her in critical condition. He also shot several of her friends.
Her father – an Anti-Taliban activist – was devastated as Malala was flown to a military hospital in Peshwar and then later transferred to Birmingham, England.
“On the 9th of October, 2012, the Taliban shot me on the left side of my forehead. They shot my friends too. They thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed.”
“How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?”
During her childhood, Malala went to a school that her father, Zaiuddin Yousafzai had founded in a then popular tourist destination, Swat Valley. As the Taliban began to take control, her hometown became less safe. The fundamentalist group began attacking girls’ schools which led to the teenager to deliver a speech in Peshwar in September 2008, which was titled “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?”
The young teenager’s bravery was noticed abroad and in early 2009, she began blogging for the BBC under the false name Gul Makai. The blog extended on the speech she gave and she explained to the world how hard it was living under the Taliban’s threat to deny girls in her country a right to education. In December of the same year she was revealed to be the blogger and the Taliban wanted her dead.
Despite this, her public platform began to grow. Yousafzai continued to speak out about all women’s right to an education. Her activism resulted in a nomination for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011. That same year, she was awarded Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize.
Recovery and fame
During her time in Birmingham hospital, part of her skull was removed and she had multiple surgeries. After her recovery, she learned that she is still wanted by the Taliban. Despite this, the young Pakistani remains dedicated to her cause and positive that her work will make a difference.
Her hard work and bravery has lead to July 14th of every year to be dedicated as ‘Malala day’. Malala said that the day is “a day of every woman, every boy and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights.”
Although people have debated as to whether Malala’s efforts have resulted in any real change, in July, 2013 she addressed the UN about the rights for women to have education – this led to the Pakistani government doubling its education spending and also a the creation of a charity in Malala’s name (The Malala fund) to break the cycle of poverty and to educate women around the globe. Despite being the youngest ever Winner of a Nobel Peace prize, the young girl may well be the most deserving candidate in recent history.