A masked man boarded a bus carrying children home from school in Mingora, Pakistan on an October day in 2012. He fired a single bullet into the head of Malala Yousefzai and fled, leaving her to die. The Taliban had apparently made good on their threat to kill the girl if she continued her outspoken support of education for women. However, Malala did not die. Far from silencing her, the Taliban’s assassination attempt empowered the girl. Her message of women’s right to learn had reached thousands of people. It now reaches millions all over the world.
Malala’s Early Life
Malala Yousefzai was born in Mingura on July 12, 1997. For the first few years of her life, the town was a peaceful commercial and tourism center in Pakistan’s Swat district. She attended the girl’s school founded by her father, an educator and advocate of education for all. Then the Taliban came. The fundamentalist group launched a campaign of terror in an effort to control the reason and impose their ideology, including closing women’s schools. Although she was only 11, Malala began speaking out by blogging for the BBC about her experienc21es under the Taliban regime.
Writing under the pen name Gul Makai, Malala began to make herself heard. Her message of equal rights for women was a stark contrast to the violent ideology of the Taliban, and people began to take notice. In 2011 she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize. Also in 2011, Malala received Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize. Malala’s demands for equal education for women came to the attention of the Taliban, and they started issuing death threats. Malala was undeterred, in part because her father did not think they would actually harm her.In 2012 he was proved wrong. On October 9, Malala was shot and critically wounded.
The brutal attack on a teenage girl shocked the world, and millions of people followed her recovery closely. Malala and her family were flown to the United Kingdom for their safety and to continue her medical treatment. It soon became clear her determination to make her voice heard was as strong as ever. Malala quickly resumed her vocal support for women’s right to be educated, and the whole world listened. In 2013 she received the Sakharov Prize. In 2014 Malala became the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Today, Malala continues to write and speak while she attends Oxford University in England.